Reducing Toxicity of Household Hazardous Waste

Reduce Toxicity Through Careful Use

  • Use less-toxic alternatives whenever possible.
  • Always read the label, and buy the least-toxic product.
  • Buy only the amount that you need.
  • Use up all of the product.
  • Give usable, leftover products to friends or neighbors, or donate to community groups.
  • Take unwanted products and potentially dangerous waste (free of charge) to a household hazardous waste disposal program.

Reduce Toxicity Through Careful Disposal

  • Do not dispose of hazardous household products in your household trash.
  • Don't dump them down storm drains or into creeks.
    • Storm drains send water directly to our creeks and surface water without treatment.
    • Toxins poison the fish and can end up in our drinking water supply.
  • Don't pour them down your sink or toilet.
    • May cause an explosion in the underground pipes.
    • Chemicals may pass through the treatment plant untreated, and on into the surface water.
  • Don't pour them on the ground.
    • May seep into groundwater or be washed down storm drains or into creeks.
  • Don't burn them.
    • Toxic materials often become more dangerous when they burn.
    • It's illegal to burn any trash in Washington State.
  • Illegal disposal methods can endanger your health, the health of others, and the environment.
    • Could hurt the garbage hauler.
    • Could damage the garbage truck.
    • Could seep into our ground or surface water.

Problems Caused by Hazardous Products

  • If products containing hazardous chemicals are poured down a sink or toilet on a septic system, they can kill the beneficial, digesting bacteria in the tank and disrupt the system.
  • Chemicals that cannot be broken down by the system's bacteria can pollute the soil and the surrounding groundwater when the liquid is dispersed by the leach field.

Special Considerations for Septic Systems

  • Disinfectants (limited, normal household use is OK)
  • Chemical drain openers (limited use is OK, but a plunger or plumber's snake is better).
  • Do not use "septic tank cleaning solvents" that contain methylene chloride or 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA). These "scum-dissolving" products typically don't work and may harm the septic system and pollute groundwater.