Hazardous waste exists in liquid, solid, gas, and sludge form, and can be harmful to both your health and the environment. While we commonly think of chemical plants and factories as the sources of such waste, certain hazardous materials can be found in many Massachusetts homes. Some common examples include household products such as aerosol cans, batteries, and fluorescent light bulbs.
But don’t despair – there’s no reason to run screaming from your home. By learning about the most common hazardous household products and how to handle them properly, you’ll be prepared to ensure a safe home for you and your family.
Keep Your Home Hazard-Free
- Test the waters. Contact your local Board of Health to learn about water testing procedures in your area. Although the Massachusetts Department of Environment Protection (MassDEP) monitors public water sources, homeowners using a private well are responsible for their own testing.
- Keep them separated. Store household products in their clearly labeled, original containers and never mix anything together.
- Cut out the chemicals. Experiment with natural alternative cleaning methods.
- Check for asbestos. Asbestos, a mineral once commonly used for fireproofing and insulating homes, can be harmful when inhaled. Contact a licensed asbestos contractor to evaluate your home and handle removal if necessary.
- Eliminate lead. Overexposure to lead can be poisonous, especially for infants and young children. Learn how to avoid lead contamination in drinking water and your yard. You can also find a licensed lead inspector to assist with deleading your home.
Safely Remove Hazardous Waste Products from Your Home
While not all hazardous products impose immediate dangers, it’s crucial to dispose of such waste properly to prevent contamination of the environment.
- Find a community waste collection. To learn if your community holds household hazardous waste collections, contact your town’s public works department.
- Be safe when discarding medication. Dispose of pharmaceutical and personal care products safely. Do not flush discarded medications down the drain, as this can harm fish and other aquatic life. Instead:
- Keep medications in their original containers. Leave drug names visible to help identify the contents if they are accidentally swallowed. Cross out other personal information on labels to make it unreadable.
- Disguise medications in their containers. Add some soda or water to dissolve pills. For liquids, add inedible materials like coffee grounds, dirt or cat litter to them.
- Close lids and secure them with tape.
- Check to see if there is a permanent waste medication collection kiosk near you. If not, hide the medication containers in the trash. Do not put medication in your recycle bin.
Remember, not all products containing hazardous chemicals pose an immediate danger. By following the safety tips provided above you can keep your home hazard-free.
How do you keep your home hazard-free? Share your tips and recommendations in comments below or tweets, @MassGov.
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