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Ho Ho How to Dispose of Hazardous Waste

This story was written by the Our Gem Collaborative team for the CDA Press on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021. Read the original article.

As the holidays approach, you might find yourself making room for new things your family acquires during the season of gift giving. You may be thinning out your children’s outdated toys or cleaning out old chemicals in the basement blocking your holiday decorations (that you should have put up last week!). Regardless of what treasures you find in your garage, basement, or toy room, you will likely find some items that are no longer of use and need to dispose of properly. Not all waste can go in your garbage can!

Many common household products contain ingredients that are corrosive, toxic, or flammable and are considered hazardous waste. When disposed of improperly, these products can become personal health and safety concerns and have the potential to contaminate soil, drinking water, lakes, streams, and rivers. As you make room for new stuff this season, please consider the proper way to dispose of your unwanted household products.

Use Caution with These Products:

Electronics — E-waste can have negative effects on soil and water. As they break down, they can release toxic heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and cadmium. Many office-supply and electronics stores will recycle items such as TVs, computers, cell phones, appliances, toner, video games, cameras and more.

Batteries — Batteries contain both chemicals and metals and should be disposed of properly. Alkaline and zinc carbon batteries can be safely put in your household trash, but automobile and rechargeable batteries should be taken to Kootenai County Transfer Stations.

Home cleaning supplies — Products like drain cleaners, oven cleaners, laundry and stain removers, bleach, lye, some bathroom cleaners, floor wax stripper and polishes contain hazardous chemicals and should be disposed of at Kootenai County Transfer Stations on specific days and times.

Home maintenance products — Products such as oil-based paints, lead-based paint, paint thinner, wood stains, wood preservatives, paint stripper, some adhesives and glues, degreasers, mothballs, lead solder and fluorescent lights should be disposed of at transfer stations.

Vehicle-related products — Products such as antifreeze, oil, gasoline, cleaning solvents, brake fluid, grease, rust removers, oil filters, transmission fluid and old auto parts are also considered hazardous materials and as such need to be disposed of at a transfer station.

Hobby and recreational supplies — Other recreational supplies that can be considered hazardous are photo developer chemicals, marine paints containing pesticides and/or mercury, swimming pool and hot tub chemicals and chemistry sets, which again need to be disposed of at the transfer stations.

The Kootenai County Transfer Stations accept hazardous waste from county residents, but only on specific days of the week (Wednesday and Saturday at the Ramsey Transfer Station and Friday and Saturday at the Prairie Transfer Station). Visit their website for more information. You can learn more about how to recycle or dispose of household materials at the Spokane and Kootenai County Waste and Recycle Directory.

Improper handling of household hazardous waste can have negative impacts on water quality, but YOU can make a difference. Here are actions you can take to protect our natural resources:

  • Read The Label...Then Choose Wisely!
  • Try using non-toxic alternative products
  • Use rechargeable batteries
  • Reduce, Re-use, & Recycle
  • Do not burn hazardous products or their containers
  • Do not mix separate materials before disposal
  • Keep containers tightly sealed and dry
  • Store products at least 200 feet from a well or water
  • Prevent spills

Have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!

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