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Household Chemicals Don't Belong Down the Drain or in the Trash

Hoosiers can help the environment by not dumping paints, fertilizers and any other products that might contain harmful chemicals in their trash or down the drain. (V. Carter)
Hoosiers can help the environment by not dumping paints, fertilizers and any other products that might contain harmful chemicals in their trash or down the drain. (V. Carter)
October 6, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS – Lawnmowers will soon be switched out for snow blowers in many Indiana 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 in Des Moines, 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 properly.

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.

She suggests contacting the local solid waste agency to find hazardous waste drop-off sites in your area.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN