Baltimore County maintains a Household Hazardous Waste Program that offers several options for residents to safely recycle or dispose of household hazardous waste, including permanent drop-off locations for specific items and a full-service household hazardous waste area at the Central Acceptance Facility.
The County also offers alternative options for disposal of latex paint and medications. County residents with additional questions about the recycling or disposal of hazardous materials may contact the Bureau of Solid Waste Management.
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
- Mercury thermometers and thermostats
- Paints and stains
- Paint thinner and mineral spirits
- Pesticides (lawn and garden chemicals)
- Pool chemicals
- Prescription drugs
The materials above are potentially harmful and should not be poured onto the ground, down the drain or placed into a garbage can.
Some products such as gasoline, thinners, lighter fluid or glues and adhesives can catch fire.
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.
All three Baltimore County drop-off centers accept selected household hazardous waste throughout the year, though the full-service site at the Central Acceptance Facility accepts the widest range of materials. The Bureau of Solid Waste Management maintains a comprehensive directory of the various materials accepted at each drop-off center.
Residents may take unwanted latex paint (maximum of 20 gallons per visit) to the County's full-service household hazardous waste drop-off location at the Central Acceptance Facility in Cockeysville.
Small amounts of latex paints can also be disposed of with regular household trash 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 pound weight limit regulation, or overloading individual garbage bags beyond 30 pounds (to prevent bag breakage).
Oil based (alkyd) paints may be flammable and should not be disposed of through the routine garbage collection system.
The Baltimore County Department of Health and the Baltimore County Police Department have initiated a drug take-back program in the County. Residents may anonymously and safely dispose of unwanted and expired drugs 24 hours a day, seven days a week at drug drop-off boxes located outside of all 10 Baltimore County police precincts.
Unwanted and expired medication can also be disposed of with regular household trash if a few simple steps are taken:
Take the medicines out of their original containers and mix with an unpalatable material such as used cat litter or used coffee grounds (as a deterrent to consumption).
Conceal or remove any personal information, including prescription number, on the empty containers by covering with black permanent marker or duct tape, or by scratching the personal information off.
Put the mixture into a plastic bag with a seal or a 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 that should be flushed, please call the United States Food and Drug Administration at 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.
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.
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.