Lurking in every household are hazardous materials to our health and to our environment. On average, households contain between three and ten gallons of hazardous items. Without properly storing or disposing these harmful materials, our water supply can be poisoned. Unfortunately, tremendous damage occurs to our precious water when residents absentmindedly pour materials such as paint thinner, or lye-based oven cleaner down the drain.
"Most people don't realize how hazardous common household items can be to our drinking water," stated Kevin Langberg, chairman of the board of commissioners for the Plainview Water District. "It is imperative that we educate our residents about these dangers and provide tips for properly disposing hazardous household items."
According to Commissioner Kevin Langberg, in order to clear the confusion surrounding hazardous materials, the Water District offers the following information.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers a substance hazardous if it can catch fire, react or explode when mixed with other substances, if it is corrosive, or if it is toxic. This defines many things that you are probably storing right now in your garage, basement, bathroom or kitchen. Some like paint thinner or car batteries, are pretty obvious. There are many others, though, like polishes, insecticides and glues that you may not ordinarily think of.
One of the worst ways to dispose of hazardous materials is to 'just dump them down the drain.' Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to handle many types of hazardous wastes.
Disposing of hazardous wastes with your normal trash is also dangerous. Most landfills are not equipped to accept hazardous waste material. Hazardous wastes improperly disposed of in a landfill can pollute the environment through groundwater, surface water and air. So what should be done with your household hazardous waste material?
Following these suggestions can help to reduce the amount of hazardous wastes in your household:
Before you buy a product, read the label. Once you buy something, you become responsible for disposing of it properly.
Read and follow directions on how to use a product and dispose of the container (there is good reason why labels say 'do not incinerate' or 'do not mix with bleach').
Use safer substitutes whenever possible.
Recycling is an excellent way of handling some hazardous wastes. Used motor oil, paint thinners and some other solvents can be refined and reused just as aluminum cans are. The Town of Oyster Bay can assist you in recycling or with the proper disposal of household chemicals. Contact the Town's Recycling Hotline at 516-677-5748 if you have any questions.
Along with his fellow commissioners, Kevin Langberg has compiled the following list identifying many of the typical household products that should never be poured down the drain:
Oven cleaners (lye-based)
Nail polish - solidified
Nail polish remover - solidified
Auto body repair products
Paints: latex, oil, auto, model
Paint thinner and strippers
Turpentine or varnish
Insecticides of all kinds
Poisons of all kinds
Dry cleaning solvents
Photographic chemicals - unmixed