Dispose of hazardous household wastes properly

by Stephanie Manry
82nd Civil Engineering Squadron/Defense Support Services

7/5/2010 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- A variety of chemical products are used when taking care of a home, yard and garden. Many of these products can contain hazardous chemicals.

The Environmental Protection Agency defines four major types of hazardous wastes:

- Corrosives - can cause a chemical reaction that eats away materials or living tissue
  Example: Battery Acid
- Toxics - can cause illness or death
  Examples: Pesticides, cleaning products, paints, photographic supplies and many art supplies
- Ignitables - can catch fire spontaneously or burn easily
  Examples: Charcoal lighter fluid, gasoline, kerosene, nail polish remover and various oils
- Reactives - can react with air, water or other substances to cause rapid heating or explosions
  Example: Acids that heat up rapidly and spatter when mixed with water

General disposal recommendations:

- Follow the label directions - read the label carefully and follow the manufacturer's recommendations
- Use it up - when products are completely used up, there is no hazardous waste
- Reduce - only buy the amount of product you will need. This not only reduces the waste, but can save money as well
- Reuse - when possible, reuse the product to help minimize the amount of hazardous waste which needs to be disposed. This 
  will also cut back on the amount of waste going into local landfills
- Recycle - recycle means the product can be used for some other means, which also helps to minimize the amount of waste 
  placed in landfills
- Donate - donate paint, household cleaners or other products to a local charity, church or service organization.

Remember to ensure the products are in an approved container and labeled according to local, state and/or federal regulations. This not only helps get rid of the excess product, but it also helps someone else in need.

It is difficult to eliminate all of the hazardous products from our daily lives. However, environmental impacts can be minimized by properly dispose of, or using up, the products. Make sure the disposal method used is a safe one so that the hazardous waste does not contaminate drinking water.

Sheppard Air Force Base provides the base populous with collection locations for universal and hazardous wastes.

For information related to household wastes such as aluminum cans, paper, plastic bottles, etc., call Don Smith at 676-4600.

For information related to Universal Hazardous wastes such as batteries, light bulbs, paints and cleaning products, contact Michael Pettibon at 676-2415.

For additional information on household hazardous wastes visit the following sites:

- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality website at www.tceq.state.tx.us
- Environmental Protection Agency website at www.epa.gov
- Consumer Product Safety Council website at www.cpsc.gov