November 14, 2017 – The City of Center will be hosting, with the assistance of Pineywoods Resource Conservation & Development, a household hazardous waste disposal event this Saturday, November 18th, between 9 am and 1 pm at the Windham Civic Center parking lot. All Center residents are encouraged to bring accepted items for disposal at no cost
Some people ask, what’s the purpose of household hazardous waste (HHW) management? These products can be bought at the grocery or hardware stores every day. Why can’t we just dispose of unwanted chemical cleaners, polishes, lawn and garden chemicals, and other products in the garbage can or down the drain?
Even though there aren’t any laws governing the disposal of household chemicals, it still is not okay to put chemical products in the garbage for trash pickup, into a creek, storm drain or into the sanitary sewer. In communities like Center, unwanted household chemicals are not routinely collected so they end up being disposed of either in the garbage or by some other method.
Some people may ask, “so what?” if household chemicals are put in the trash and disposed of in landfills. Here is some information that may illustrate the importance of proper HHW management and proper disposal of these chemicals.
One reason is to remove chemicals from your home so they are not accidentally consumed.
Poison Exposures in the United States Facts:
• There is one poison exposure every 14 seconds.
• Over two million poisonings are reported annually.
• Majority of poisonings involve everyday household items such as cleaning supplies, medicines, cosmetics and personal care items.
• 89 percent of all poisonings occur in the home.
• 75 percent of poisonings are ingestion of a substance.
• Children and Poison:
• 53 percent of poisonings occur in children under the age of six.
• Child poisonings under the age of six represent 2% of poison fatalities.
It’s an uncommon occurrence, but garbage trucks can catch fire or generate toxic gases due to household chemicals being collected as trash. In larger communities it happens more frequently, but just this summer, there was a trash truck fire in Center. Sanitation workers can become exposed to toxic fumes generated by chemicals reacting in garbage, and that happens more frequently than people realize. The average cost for a garbage truck fire or chemical contamination can easily be $25,000 or more.
Introduction of chemicals and certain waste into the local sanitary sewer system is an extremely important issue. The City’s wastewater treatment plant can be significantly impacted by even small amounts of household chemicals - particularly metals. Most notable are zinc, copper and mercury that are more prevalent in industrial waste but can be generated from households. Mercury is common in household items such as thermometers, batteries, thermostats, appliance switches/controls and various light bulbs. People will probably be surprised to learn there is even mercury in many dish soaps and detergents. Similarly, zinc is in some batteries and light bulbs. Metals can be introduced into the sanitary sewer system if improperly disposed of, creating treatment issues and potentially resulting in permit violations, both of which create higher costs for utility customers. Also, prescription drugs should not be flushed down the drain as many can create treatment problems or hazardous situations in the sewer system.
Proper HHW management isn’t just about environmental concern, it’s an issue about public health as well as safety in the home.
For more information please call City Hall at 936/598-2941.