Household Hazardous Waste Statistics

Is your Home a Safe Place?

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Tons of hazardous waste produced

Worldwide, this year

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TheWorldCounts, 15 April, 2014

Is your Home a Safe Place?

Household Hazardous Waste is any product that you use at home regularly for cleaning, which contains chemicals that are harmful to human health and our environment. 

All the products that we have in our homes seem pretty harmless, and they do keep our homes clean. It will come as a surprise to many, that your innocent looking detergent, bleach, furniture polisher, medicine, cosmetics, batteries, air freshener and paint are some examples of hazardous products.

Most of these hazardous wastes are not disposed of properly. Most people are not even aware that they are hazardous. So they either pour them down the drain or throw them away with regular household waste and they are collected and deposited in community landfills.

Effects of Hazardous Waste Products

Products are deemed hazardous when they have chemicals that are explosive, reactive, flammable, toxic or corrosive. 

You often find warnings in their labels like Danger, Warning, Caution or Poison. These products are safe when used according to directions, but when mishandled, they can pose a serious threat to your health. 

When you pour them down the drains, bury them in your yard or burn them, they pollute our waters and when burned, they release harmful chemicals in the air adding to air pollution.

When these products are ingested, they can poison you and cause death. This happens more often to children who innocently play with them. They have fumes and vapors that can irritate the lungs and the chemicals that make them flammable can cause them to explode and cause fires. They can scorch your skin, cause blindness and make you sick with diarrhea, vomiting and others.

How much Hazardous Waste are we talking about?

  • We produce more than 400 million tons of hazardous waste each year
  • Burning hazardous waste releases Dioxins into the atmosphere. It is one of the most toxic chemicals known
  • The average home can accumulate as much as 100 pounds of household wastes in storage areas, garages and sheds
  • In just one generation, our production of man-made chemicals increased by 40,000% - from 1 million to 400 million tons.

Reducing the Threat

As you probably realize by now, almost everything in your home that is made by man is on the list of hazardous waste products. They are everywhere. There are 2 things that you can do to help minimize the threat of hazardous waste to humans and to our environment.

Choose the products that you buy carefully

You are empowered as a consumer, to choose products that are less hazardous to our health and environment.

  • Use Latex or Water Based Paint
  • Choose less or non- hazardous substitutes
  • Read labels carefully before buying a product
  • Buy only what you need. Don’t stock up!
  • Avoid Aerosol Products
  • Buy products packaged in childproof containers
  • Go Green whenever you can

Dispose of your Hazardous Waste Properly

  • Look for a hazardous waste disposal facility in your community. If you don’t have one, convince  your politicians to establish a collection and disposal facility
  • Recycle what can be recycled – especially old tires and oils
  • Do not throw hazardous waste products in open dumps and incinerators
  • Do not pour the contents in the drain, sewage or toilet until the disposal instruction in the label says it’s safe to do so
  • Do not throw products that contain heavy metals (such as mercury, lead, nickel, etc.) in the trash

Who would ever think that we are harboring dangerous products in our home? 

We cannot avoid using them as they part of our everyday lives and we’ve become used to them. But we can look for alternatives that are not as harmful. 

Just think of it like a diet. When you’re on a diet, you look for less fat, less cholesterol and you can find products like that. All we need is to be more mindful of the way we use these conveniences in our daily lives. Now that you are aware of the household hazardous waste statistics, it is our hope that you join our efforts to reduce hazardous waste through the simple practices we mentioned above. 

Let’s keep our home and environment safer for everyone.

References

  1. ANTHC:  Household Hazardous Waste Guide
  2. PublicWorks: Hazardous Household Products

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