What You Should & Shouldn't Do
Are You Poisoning Your Water?
were to drop a poisonous substance into your community's water
supply, the act would be considered a serious crime and a state of
public emergency would be declared.
you dump a can of paint thinner down the drain or throw out an old
car battery with the trash, no alarms are sounded, no news flashes
are issued. Yet, the impact on your water resources could be just as
That is not
a far-fetched statement. The average household contains between
three and ten gallons or ten to forty litres of materials that are
hazardous to human health or to the natural environment.
Collectively, these materials can poison our water if they are not
stored carefully and disposed of properly.
What Is A Hazardous Materials?
environmental agencies consider a substance hazardous if it can
catch fire, if it can react or explode when mixed with other
substances, if it is corrosive, or if it is toxic.
includes many things that you probably are storing right now in your
garage, basement, bathroom or kitchen. Some, like paint thinner or
car batteries, are pretty obvious, but there are many that you might
not ordinarily think of such as polishes, insecticides and glues.
CLICK TO VIEW CHART
What You Can Do In Your CommunityDangers of Hazardous Materials
disposal of household materials can cause problems for the entire
community. Materials can be explosive or highly flammable. Sewers
have exploded and garbage trucks have burned because people have
carelessly discarded flammable or reactive materials.
materials can also be corrosive. The acid from discarded auto
batteries can eat away many substances. Some materials are poisonous
to humans or wildlife, while others can cause cancer, birth defects
or other serious problems.
Where Do We Put Them?
One of the worst
ways to dispose of many hazardous materials is to "just dump them
down the drain." Waste water treatment plants are not designed to
handle certain types of hazardous materials.
disposing of hazardous materials in a landfill has not proven an
effective solution either. Without special design, the modern
sanitary landfill is not equipped to accept hazardous materials.
Hazardous materials improperly disposed of in a landfill can pollute
the environment through the groundwater, surface water and air.
If the public
cannot dispose of most hazardous materials in the sewer system or a
landfill, what can be done? This brochure describes some
preventatives measures you can take in your home to reduce the
quantity of material you must dispose.
The Household Hazardous Materials Chart ndicates the best way of
dealing with most hazardous materials found in the home.
First: Reduce the Amount
Second: Take Care of the Materials
- You do not need a Ph.D. in chemistry to reduce the use of
hazardous materials in your home. The following suggestions can
- Before you buy a product, read the label and make sure that it
will do what you want. Once you buy something, you are
responsible for disposing of it properly.
- Do not buy more than you need. That way, you will not need to
dispose of the surplus.
- Read and follow directions on how to use a product and dispose
of the container. (There is a good reason why the labels say "do
not incinerate" or "do not mix with bleach.").
- Use safer substitutes when they are available.
Second: Take Care of the Hazardous Materials.
Even if you
reduce the materials that must be dealt with as outlined above,
there is still the question of what to do with what is left over.
is an excellent way of handling some hazardous materials. Used motor
oil, paint thinners and some other solvents can be refined and
reused just as aluminum cans are. Contact the East Baton Rouge
Recycling Office at 389-5194 for additional information. Recycle
or commercial incineration is another effective means of dealing
with some hazardous materials. However, a specially designed
incinerator is needed to destroy hazardous materials. "Incinerators"
in your home, such as your fireplace or woodstove, can not get hot
enough to destroy hazardous materials and should never be used to
destroy hazardous materials.
The Household Hazardous Materials Chart
will guide you in disposing of potentially hazardous material around
your home. You should display this chart in a convenient location.
never dump hazardous materials on the ground, and always check the
chart before pouring them down the drain.
What You Can Do In Your Community
together, the people in a community can plan and create effective
systems for managing hazardous materials. Many communities have
begun to sponsor Household Hazardous Material collection days. These
efforts have helped reduce the amount of hazardous material in many
areas while heightening public awareness of the problem.
collection efforts in many cities have helped officials protect
their community's waste water treatment plants and groundwater from
hazardous material contamination. Many communities were able to
collect large quantities of hazardous materials on the strength of a
one or two day effort. If your community has a program for disposal
of hazardous materials, please support it.
We also encourage you to:
What the Future Holds
- Learn as much as you can about your waste water treatment
plant and share that information with your family and friends.
Clean water is for everyone.
- Learn about your community's landfill system and special
programs for the disposal of hazardous materials.
- Contact the East Baton Rouge Recycling Office, at 389-5194
or on line at: Recycle Hazards Materials
They can provide information on companies which are licensed to
handle hazardous materials along with possible funding sources
for such efforts.
What the Future Holds.
dollars have been spent to clean up our lakes and streams. Many
millions more have been spent to build and maintain adequate
Modern waste water
treatment plants have led us all to expect clean water and a safe
environment as a part of our everyday lives. We now realize that we
cannot just discharge our materials into a stream or bury hazardous
material without thinking about their impact on the environment.
For that reason and others,
household hazardous material collection has really caught on.
Communities throughout the world have begun to develop programs to
deal with household materials. These efforts need to be expanded to
include as many areas as possible.
For details on what you can
do, contact The East Baton Rouge Recycling Office at 389-5194 or on
line at Household Hazardous Materials.