Many people don't realize it but there are a lot of common household items that
are considered to be hazardous materials. These include medications, paint, motor
oil, antifreeze, auto batteries, lawn care products, pest control products, drain
cleaners, pool care products such as chlorine and acids, and household cleaners.
Some household cleaners may be harmful separately or when combined such as
ammonia and bleach.
BASIC SAFETY RULES
Know the hazards of material you're working with. Read the labels, request material
safety data sheets (MSDS) on new products, know what precautions, safety gear and
clean up procedures are advised.
Use the safest materials and procedures possible.
Use good ventilation at all times.
Use good hygiene and housekeeping; separate work and living areas; avoid eating, drinking or smoking in
the work area; don't store materials in food containers; and wash and change clothes after working; wet
mop or vacuum for cleanup of dusts.
PESTICIDES / HERBICIDES
Pesticides are chemicals designed to kill rodents and insects. Herbicides are used to kill plants and
microorganisms. They can injure or potentially kill people by inhalation, ingestion and absorption
throught the skin. Exposure can affect the respiratory and nervous systems, and cause skin and organ
damage. If improperly used, these chemicals also can injure or kill plants or animals that were not
intended to be controlled. Certain pesiticids that don't readily break down can accumulate in the food
Unless otherwise directed, don't water an area immediately after applying these chemicals to it. This
might cause them to run off with the extra water into a storm sewer or stream. Don't throw pesticides
or herbicides in the trash, or pour them on the ground or down a drain. Don't burn or bury them either.
These methods of disposal can pollute ground water, lakes, and rivers. The best way to get rid of these
chemicals is to use them up unless they are banned.
Before purchasing a pesticide or herbicide, make sure you need one. Contact the local agricultural
extension service for information on when to use pesticides/herbicides. If you need to use these
chemicals, buy only the amount you need. Try using up leftover persicides/herbicides before purchasing
Automobiles consume vast quantities of gasoline, motor oil, antifreeze, car batteries, degreasing
agents, windshield washing fluid, car waxes and cleaners. While most of these products are necessary
for proper operation and maintenance, they are all toxic.
All of these products are very hazardous and must be disposed of properly.
Some chemicals in cleansers may be hazardous to your health during routine use even though exposure is
only small amounts in the air and on your skin. You can reduce the risk to your health by avoiding
products containing toxic chemicals. Or, if you must use toxic chemicals, be sure to follow the
Cleansers may contain added dyes, perfumes, fillers, aerosol propellants, and traces of ammonia and
formaldehyde. Keep in mind that hazardous wastes are produced in manufacturing all the different
chemicals contained in these elaborate formulas. They generate waste problems even before you buy them.
Leftover oil or solvent-based paint is a hazardous waste. Toxic, dangerous chemicals used in the
production of oil-base paint can pose serious threats to human health and the natural environment if
handled or disposed of improperly.
A John Hopkins University study found 300 toxic chemicals and 150 carcinogens that may be present in
paint. Hazardous chemicals can be found in each of the four basic components that make up oil-based
paint: resins, solvents, pigments, and additives.
Take leftover oil-based paint to a household hazardous waste collection facility.