Household Hazardous Waste
Due to environmental concerns and the human health threat imposed by the improper disposal of chemicals that are stored in nearly every home, Baltimore County has developed the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Program to educate and assist residents with these issues. Find out where to go for HHW Drop-off Locations and Upcoming Events.
What is a Household Hazardous Waste?
Household Hazardous Wastes should be
properly disposed of to preserve human health
and the environment.
Household hazardous wastes include many things that you probably are storing right now in your garage, basement, bathroom, or kitchen. They include:
- Gasoline and Diesel Fuel
- Paints & Stains
- Paint Thinner & Mineral Spirits
- Car Batteries & Rechargeable Batteries
- Pesticides (Lawn & Garden Chemicals)
- Pool Chemicals
- Fluorescent Light Bulbs
- Mercury Thermometers & Thermostats
- Prescription Drugs
Caution: These materials are potentially dangerous and SHOULD NOT not poured onto the ground, down the drain or placed into a garbage can.
What are the Dangers of Hazardous Waste?
- Fire Hazards - Some products such as gasoline, thinners, lighter fluid or glues and adhesives can catch fire.
- Explosion Hazards - Pool chemicals and bleaches can react violently with other materials to explode or produce toxic gases.
- Toxicity to Humans - Many chemicals including lawn and garden or agricultural chemicals, can be toxic if inhaled or ingested or can cause cancer, birth defects or other serious medical problems.
- Harm to the Environment - Chemicals and unwanted medicines can contaminate lakes and rivers, or public drinking water supplies if simply flushed down the toilet or poured down the drain.
What Can I Do About Household Hazardous Waste?
Individuals Really Can Make a Difference!
- Educate yourself. Learn about the products you use in your home, garden, and workshop, and about how waste is managed in your community. Tips for disposing of latex paint and unwanted medication are detailed below.
- Try to find a non-hazardous or less hazardous substitute. For example, baking soda makes a good scouring powder; whole lemon oil and beeswax works well as a furniture polish; cedar shavings and aromatic herbs can replace mothballs. Use a plumber's helper or snake to clear clogged drains instead of a caustic drain cleaner. In some cases, substitutes may require a little more "elbow grease," but are well worth the effort to protect your health and the environment.
- Try to select the least hazardous product which will work for you. When you buy, buy only what you really need. The large economy size often is less economical when you consider disposal of leftovers.
- Always read and follow all directions and precautions on labels. Never mix products unless directed by the label - two really good individual products may react to be less useful, and may even be chemically incompatible, producing toxic fumes, fires or possibly explosion.
- Store hazardous products in their original container. If you must put something into another container, for example when you change your motor oil, make sure to label the container. Make sure all containers are tightly closed and upright. Keep away from children and pets.
- Keep hazardous products away from food products and sources of heat and sparks. Separate flammable, corrosive and poisonous products.
- Try to use up products for their intended purpose. If you do have some left, try to share it with your friends or neighbors, or perhaps with community groups.
- Carefully store any remaining household hazardous waste until you can safely transport them to the nearest Baltimore County drop off center or one day collection event.
Option 1: Take unwanted paint to an HHW Drop-off location.
Option 2: Take unwanted paint to an HHW Collection Event
Option 3: For residents who do not wish to recycle their latex paints, these latex paints can be disposed of with your routine garbage collection if a few simple steps are taken:
- Make sure the paint cans are empty or the contents have solidified before placing latex paints into the garbage can.
- Latex paint can be solidified in the paint can by removing the lid, stirring in an absorbent material such as cat litter or saw dust and placing the open can out in the sunlight to dry. This should be done in a safe, well ventilated area away from children and pets.
- The lid should be removed from the paint can so that the garbage collector can see that there is no liquid inside.
- Care should be taken to avoid overloading your garbage can with latex paint cans beyond the 40 lb. local weight restriction, or overloading garbage bags beyond the 30 lb. weight restriction.
- Oil based (alkyd) paints may be flammable and should NOT be disposed of through the routine garbage collection system.
Option 1: Take unwanted medication to an HHW Collection Event.
Option 2: Unwanted medicines can also be safely disposed in the routine garbage collection if a few simple steps are taken:
- Take the medicines out of their original containers and mix with an undesirable material such as used cat litter or used coffee grounds.
- Conceal or remove any personal information, including Rx number, on the empty containers by covering with black permanent marker or duct tape, or by scratching it off.
- Put the mixture into a sealable plastic bag or disposable container with a lid.
- Place the sealed container and empty medicine containers into the trash can.
Do not flush unwanted medicines down the toilet or drain unless the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs you to do so.
For an updated list of drugs which should be flushed please visit the USFDA web site , or contact the USFDA, 1-888-463-6332.
Some pharmacies in Baltimore County will accept prescription drugs for proper disposal. For an updated list, please visit the National Community of Pharmacists Association.
For guidance on the disposal of other household chemicals, please contact the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (EPS) at 410-887-3745.
Revised July 18, 2011