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Household Hazardous Waste

Baltimore County maintains a Household Hazardous Waste Program to help ensure proper recycling or disposal of potentially harmful household chemicals. The program includes the operation of permanent drop-off locations and one-day collection events for household hazardous waste. County residents with additional questions about the recycling or disposal of hazardous materials may email the Bureau of Solid Waste Management at solidwaste@baltimorecountymd.gov or call 410-887-2000.

Types of Household Hazardous Waste

Household hazardous wastes include many things that you probably are storing right now in your garage, basement, bathroom or kitchen. They include:

  • Car batteries and rechargeable batteries
  • Fluorescent light bulbs
  • Gasoline and diesel fuel
  • Glues
  • Mercury thermometers and thermostats
  • Paints and stains
  • Paint thinner and mineral spirits
  • Pesticides (lawn and garden chemicals)
  • Pool chemicals
  • Prescription drugs

Warning

The materials above are potentially harmful and should not be poured onto the ground, down the drain or placed into a garbage can!

Negative Effects 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.

Tips for Minimizing Use of Hazardous Materials at Home

  • 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.

Safety Tips for Using Hazardous Materials at Home

  • Educate yourself. Learn about the products you use in your home, garden, and workshop, and about how waste is managed in your community.
  • 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 it to a Baltimore County drop-off center or one day collection event.
 
Revised March 3, 2017         

 

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