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Fall Cleaning: Don’t Dump, Drop Off

Paint and other potentially hazardous products should never be disposed of down a drain or in a trash can. (faungg's photos/Flickr)
Paint and other potentially hazardous products should never be disposed of down a drain or in a trash can. (faungg's photos/Flickr)
October 5, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa – Lawnmowers will soon be switched out for snow blowers in many Iowa garages, as homeowners assess what they'll need during the winter months.

And often, hazardous materials that need disposal are uncovered in garages and sheds during the process.

Trish Radke, program coordinator for the Metro Waste Authority, says dumping hazardous chemicals down the sink or into a storm drain has serious health and environmental consequences.

"Water waste from our homes, it connects to city sewers and then, it goes through wastewater treatment facilities before it's discharged into rivers and streams,” she explains. “And some hazardous products, they don't break down in those system due to the chemical makeup. And so, it's really important not to be dumping them down the drain."

Radke notes disposal in the regular garbage is also discouraged, as chemicals can be dangerous for sanitation workers who come into contact with the trash, or for other people and pets if materials leak.

Any product that could be considered dangerous can be taken to a hazardous waste drop off site, where it will be disposed of safely.

Fertilizers, pesticides, deck stains and oil cans are among items that can be flammable and even explode in certain conditions.

And Radke has tips to identify if other products are dangerous.

"When you're doing a clean-out, look for those labels that say ‘hazardous, toxic, flammable,’” she advises. “Those key words are going to help you determine if that's something that you need to think a little bit before you just put it in your regular trash or certainly, before you would dump it down a drain."

Radke adds the same holds true for pool chemicals and some indoor cleaning products.

Iowans can contact their local solid waste agency to find hazardous waste drop-off opportunities, or look online at

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IA