By Shawn Shouse
Ag Engineering Field Specialist
Iowa State University Extension
Household materials are categorized as hazardous if they are corrosive, toxic, flammable or reactive. If not managed properly, these materials threaten human health, Iowa’s lakes and streams, and groundwater which supplies 80 percent of our drinking water.
What is hazardous?
Household products are considered hazardous if they have at least one of the following characteristics:
• Toxic: May cause injury or death upon being inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin.
• Caustic/Corrosive: Substance or its vapors can cause deterioration or irreversible alteration in body tissues and deteriorate or wear away the surface of other materials.
• Flammable: Can ignite or explode under normal working conditions.
• Reactive: Can explode through exposure to heat, sudden shock, pressure, or incompatible substances.
If a product is considered hazardous, the product label is required to alert the consumer using the words danger, poison, warning, or caution.
Many products such as cleaners, automotive fluids, pesticides, paints and thinners, mercury thermometers, fluorescent light bulbs and batteries are considered hazardous. For a list of many of the most common Household Hazardous Materials (HHM), along with advice on how to handle and dispose of them, see the HHM safety chart on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) site http://www.iowadnr.gov/waste/hhm/.
Storage and disposal guidelines for household hazardous materials
• Follow manufacturer storage directions.
• Keep products out of the reach of children and animals.
• Store all household hazardous materials away from food items.
• Tightly seal lids and caps.
• Clearly label all containers before storing.
• Keep HHMs in original containers. NEVER place HHMs in food or beverage containers.
• Keep HHMs away from heat, flame or sources of ignition.
• Store HHMs containing volatile chemicals or those that warn of vapors in a well-ventilated area.
• Store HHMs in a cool dry place.
• Follow label directions for proper use, storage and disposal
• Don’t pour HHMs down the drain.
• Don’t put HHMs in the trash.
Regional Collection Centers
Regional Collection Centers (RCCs) are permanent collection facilities designed to assist the public and qualifying small businesses with proper management and disposal of hazardous waste. RCCs accept specific types of hazardous waste for disposal either through local outlets or through contracted service. They also provide a materials exchange (swap shop) and work to educate Iowans in proper purchasing and management techniques for HHMs.
In 2008 Iowa’s RCCs collected nearly 3.5 million pounds of household hazardous materials from 24,200 households and 1,450 small businesses. Currently 22 main facilities and 37 satellite facilities are operating across Iowa serving 88 counties. The Iowa DNR distributes grants to counties who wish to establish RCC service.
For complete listings of RCC locations and contacts, and for more information about Iowa’s HHM programs, visit the Iowa DNR HHM site at http://www.iowadnr.gov/waste/hhm/ or call Kathleen Hennings, DNR environmental specialist, at (515) 281-5859.
This article is from the April 2009 issue of Acreage Living.
Other articles in this month’s issue—
Cost Saving Tips for Feeding Horses
Iowa Septic Systems Must Be Inspected Before Property Sale