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Common household materials can be hazardous when not handled or disposed of properly. When you choose to bring in your leftover items like cleaning products and gardening supplies, you’re helping everyone in our community win.
Making a drop off at your Regional Collection Center is as easy as looking up your location and collecting any unwanted items from around your home. Find out where to bring it in!
Household hazardous materials (HHMs) are found in nearly every home, under every sink, in closets, basements, and garages. Consequently, nearly every household in the state generates household hazardous waste. These materials are likely to end up in local solid waste facilities or in municipal sewer systems, septic tanks or even released directly into the environment unless steps are taken to manage this waste independently from other household wastes.
Are household products really that dangerous? I use them every day.
Common household products like cleaners make chores easier but they can also pose a threat to public health, safety, and the environment if not disposed of properly. The cleaners in your home have the same chemicals found in industrial factories, just in smaller amounts. Cleaners contain hazardous chemicals that can cause health concerns such as skin irritations, aggravation of respiratory diseases, and even cancer. Health effects caused by hazardous waste can be acute (sudden or immediate onset of severe symptoms) or chronic (gradual onset of symptoms occurring through repeated exposures over an extended period of time).
Children are of special concern, as they are often more susceptible to the toxins in household materials than adults. For children, the impacts can be more severe as their systems have not yet fully developed. In fact, hazardous household products are the leading cause of poisonings in children.
How can I tell if a household product is hazardous?
Labels on household products considered hazardous may contain one of the following signal words: Warning, Caution, Danger, Poison. Signal words appear because household products have one or more of the following characteristics:
How can I safely handle household products that may be considered hazardous?
Information on handling specific products can be found on the product label. Labels will tell you what the product is for, how to use it, proper storage, the risks you are exposed to, and what to do if you have an accident.
How Do I Choose the Correct Household Product?
Products we commonly use for the maintenance of our homes and vehicles can make our jobs easier, but many of these materials are also considered hazardous if not handled correctly. Product labels not only contain signal words relating to their hazardous properties but also their use, storage and disposal recommendations.
When purchasing potentially hazardous products for use at home, follow these simple guidelines:
Read the Label
The label should tell you what the product is for, how to use it, the risks you are exposed to, and what to do if there is an accident. Product labels are required to list certain words to alert the consumer if a product is considered hazardous including Danger, Poison, Caution, and Warning.
Know Your Signal Words
Many product labels contain signal words to inform the consumer the product has hazardous properties. The easiest way to determine if a product is considered hazardous is to read the label and look for the following words:
Products that do not contain any of these words on the label are the least hazardous.
The most important time to read the label is before you buy a product. Consider the following questions while you are reading:
It’s important to have the Iowa Poison Control Center hotline number (1-800-222-1222) within easy reach should you ever need it. The Iowa Poison Control Center reports that the number one cause of accidental poisonings in children is exposure to hazardous household products.
How Can I Replace Household Chemicals with Less Hazardous or Green Alternatives?
In response to customer demand and environmental responsibility many companies are now producing cleaners with natural ingredients such as coconut and lemon oil, glycerine, and ethanol. Nontoxic alternatives are not only as effective and easy to use as their commercial counterparts but are also safer. Using less toxic or nature-based household products can help keep your home healthier and safer while helping protect the environment.
If your primary desire is to use less toxic, non-hazardous products, here are some tips:
Choose Better Products:
Buy Only What You Need and Use It All
Things to Think About
Note: It is unlawful to give away or sell open containers of pesticides. Either use the pesticides until gone according to the manufacturer's directions or contact your Regional Collection Center.
All of us have hazardous products like cleaners, oils or aerosols in our homes that require special care when using, storing or disposing of them. These products may pose serious fire, health or environmental hazards. To minimize risks associated with these products, read and follow product labels.
When Using Hazardous Products at Home
When Storing Hazardous Products in Your Home
People across the state can properly dispose of these materials at a collection of facilities called Regional Collection Centers (RCCs). RCC services are free to residents within their service area. Services for eligible businesses are available at a small fee.
Common household products can contain many of the chemical types found in industrial and commercial hazardous waste. Though individually they are less concentrated, when gathered together in the trash, collection vehicles or the landfill, these products can be as harmful as industrial and commercial grade chemical waste. Proper disposal is critical in protecting our health, the safety of sanitation workers, and our environment, including fish and wildlife as well as our drinking water resources.
To find out how you can properly dispose of hazardous items you can:
Do not dump hazardous materials into ditches, pour them down drains or sewers, or place them in the trash. Each of these actions has negative consequences:
What happens to my hazardous household items after I drop them off at my local collection center?
The employees at your Regional Collection Center (RCC) will keep your materials in their original container, sort them by type (corrosive, acid, aerosol), then place them in 55-gallon barrels. These barrels are sealed and stored in an explosive-proof storage unit until they are picked up for disposal by a licensed hazardous waste contractor.
This collection of fact sheets lists some common household products; potential hazards, proper disposal options, and safer alternatives, where they exist.
Rechargeable batteries are becoming more common and are found in a variety of items in our households.
Although rechargeable batteries last longer than conventional batteries they eventually lose power, and when they cannot be recharged, they need special handling. Due to the presence of corrosive chemicals, toxins such as mercury and lead, and charged electrodes, all batteries pose hazards and risk of fire, but the biggest risk lies with rechargeable batteries.
Rechargeable batteries should not be placed in the trash and should never be tossed in your recycling bin. When an item is labeled "recyclable", that simply means it can be recycled in some way; it doesn't mean that it can be put in your recycling bin. Rechargeable, Lithium Ion batteries can be recycled, but only at specified locations.
To find your nearest facility contact your local solid waste agency, or Regional Collection Center.