The half used wood polish container, the old cell phone battery which may be lying in your house for long, are things which are known as hazardous household waste. Even if hazardous material in your house is in small quantity, they can accumulate over time and pose a serious threat.
Why should I be aware of this?
When hazardous wastes are released in the air, water, or on the land they can spread and contaminate even more of the environment and pose greater threats to our health. For example, when rain falls on soil at a waste site, it can carry hazardous waste deeper into the ground and the underlying groundwater. Though hazardous substance released in small amounts may become diluted and not because much harm, it can cause injury or death to a person, plant, or animal if
- A large amount is released at one time
- A small amount is released many times at the same place
- The substance does not become diluted
- The substance is very toxic (for example, arsenic).
All about hazardous waste
Hazardous waste can be categorized as:
- Rat Poison
- Cleaning fluids
- Propane cylinders
- Drain cleaners
- Oven cleaners
Cleaners and other household chemicals should not be kept near food items but in cabinets and definitely out of the reach of children. Special care should be taken with compressed gasses like propane which should be stored outside or in well ventilated sheds. Never store flammable liquids or gasses near sources of heat or ignition
Electronic hazardous waste
There are certain components in electrical and electronic equipment which contain toxic substances and need to be handled carefully. Often they cause harm to humans and the environment due to the improper recycling and disposal processes used.
If Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs), which have high content of carcinogens such as lead, barium, phosphor and other heavy metals, are broken, recycled or disposed of without the necessary safety precautions they can cause harmful side effects for the workers and release toxins into the soil, air and Ground water.
Another dangerous process is the recycling of components containing hazardous compounds such as halogenated chlorides and bromides used as flame-retardants in plastics
Land filling is one of the most commonly used methods of disposing eWaste. Land filling is hazardous because of leachate which often contains heavy water resources. Mercury, cadmium and lead are among the most toxic leachates. Mercury, for example, will leach when certain electronic devices such as circuit breakers are destroyed. Lead has been found to leach from broken lead-containing glass, such as the cone glass of cathode ray tubes from TVs and monitors. When brominated flame retarded plastics or plastics containing cadmium are land filled, both PBDE and cadmium may leach into soil and ground water. In addition, landfills are also prone to uncontrolled fires which can release toxic fumes.
Exposure to hazardous substance
When a person comes into contact with a substance, the effects of that exposure depend on:
- How the substance is used and disposed of
- Who is exposed to it
- The concentration, or dose, of exposure
- How someone is exposed
- How long or how often someone is exposed.
Humans, plants, and animals can be exposed to hazardous substances through inhalation, ingestion, or dermal exposure.
- Inhalation - we can breathe vapors from hazardous liquids or even from contaminated water while taking a shower.
- Ingestion - we can eat fish, fruits and vegetables, or meat that has been contaminated through exposure to hazardous substances. Also, small children often eat soil or household materials that may be contaminated, such as paint chips containing lead. Probably the most common type of exposure is drinking contaminated water.
- Dermal exposure - a substance can come into direct contact with and be absorbed by our skin.
What can I do?
Hazardous waste disposal
When carelessly dumped down the drain, hazardous wastes damage plumbing and septic tanks and contribute to water pollution. Products should not be thrown on the ground or down the drain. Such hazardous products should be saved and taken to Household Hazardous Waste collections.
How to reduce household hazardous waste
One way to reduce household hazardous waste is to use non-hazardous or less hazardous compounds. People can do this by learning about alternative products that are available and choosing those that are less toxic. If you must use products with hazardous components, use only the amount you need. Leftover products can be shared with neighbors; donated to a business, charity, or government agency; or given to a household hazardous waste collection program. Recycling is an economical and environmentally sound way to handle some types of household hazardous waste, such as used car batteries and motor oil. Auto parts stores and service stations often accept used car batteries and used oil for recycling. Because household hazardous waste can be dangerous, you should always use, store, and dispose of materials containing hazardous waste safely.
As you make your choices about the use of hazardous and non-hazardous products, remember that the decisions consumers make affect the way manufacturers design products.
- Use products containing hazardous materials and fertilizers sparingly or use a non-hazardous/less hazardous alternative.
- Before purchasing a product, read the label carefully to make sure it will do what you want it to do. Once you buy something you are also legally responsible for disposing of it properly.
- Buy just what you need to do the job. Use it up. Give leftovers to a friend, neighbor, business or charity that can use them up. Excess pesticide might be offered to a greenhouse or garden center.
- Select water-based products over solvent-based products when available (e.g., paint, glue, shoe polish).
- Avoid aerosol sprays. Choose the pump spray or other alternatives
- Be smart when you apply pesticides or fertilizers. Do not apply before a rain. Not only will you lose most of the pesticides or fertilizer through runoff, but you also will be harming the environment. Do not overwater after application. Read the label. Do not apply more than is recommended.
- Have a professional change your motor oil. For a few dollars more, you not only save yourself time and energy, but it’s more likely that the used motor oil collected is recycled.
- Dispose of household hazardous wastes according to the directions on the container, or at a household hazardous waste collection event, used motor oil recycling center, auto parts store or service station. Ask for re-refined motor oil for your vehicle. Re-refined oil is oil that has been recycled and then reprocessed so it is as good as or better than virgin oil. By using re-refined motor oil, you are closing the loop and saving natural resources
Training industrial workers hazardous waste material disposal
Workers that generate or handle hazardous waste require training on the hazards and safe, proper handling of these materials. Proper training and knowledge can help workers ensure that hazardous wastes are safely and properly handled
- Training should cover the procedures for collection, labeling, and storage of the hazardous waste before it is transported for final disposal or treatment.
- Workers should be trained on emergency procedures and accidental spill response for the materials that they work with.
- Hazardous materials should never be disposed of down the drain or in regular trash receptacles
- They should be put into proper and compatible containers that can be securely sealed. Compatible container materials ensure that wastes will not react with or corrode them.
- The containers should not be completely full; a “head space” allows for waste expansion.
- The sealed containers should be labeled with the name and hazard class of the waste along with the words ‘Hazardous Waste’ and the date it was generated.
- Waste containers should be stored in a secure manner and protected from extreme environments. They should be segregated and stored in compatible hazard classes (flammable, corrosive, oxidizers, etc.) to prevent hazardous reactions if the wastes combine. The containers should remain closed during storage, except when adding or removing waste.
- Storage areas for hazardous wastes should be inspected at least weekly.
- Secondary containment can prevent spills, but if a leak or spill occurs, workers should follow facility spill and emergency response procedures. Spill kits should be available for such emergencies; all cleanup materials should be handled as hazardous waste.
- EPA Hazardous Waste
- Hazardous Waste
- Hazardous Substances and Hazardous Waste
- What Makes Things Hazardous?
- Pollution Prevention
- Hazardous Material Disposal
- How to reduce Household Hazardous Waste
- CENTRAL POLLUTION CONTROL BOARD
- Learn more about health risks of products by name from Household Products Database
- This is your chance to attend a Hazardous Waste On-line Class. Sit for an exam after learning. But before that you will get a chance to practice, as many times as you want. Have fun and learn.