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HOME IMPROVEMENT : Hazardous Garbage Needs Special Care

February 08, 1992|From Associated Press

Not all trash is alike. Most of what is thrown away is harmless. But there are substances that can and do leach out of landfills, pollute ground water, and accumulate in the food chain.

Here are the worst offenders, according to Better Homes and Gardens magazine:

* Paints and solvents make up most hazardous household trash. Many paints contain petroleum distillates, mercury, formaldehyde, and other long-lasting toxins. Solvents can contain toluene, benzene or methylene chloride.

* The flashlight and button household batteries make up the second largest category of hazardous waste. Americans throw away between 1.5 to 2.5 billion batteries every year. These contain toxic metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium.

* Automotive products such used motor oil, brake fluid, antifreeze, and transmission fluid contain lead, ethylene glycol, and many other environmentally harmful compounds. Used automotive batteries contain lead and sulfuric acid. Gasoline contains benzene--a known human carcinogen.

* Pesticides and herbicides can wreak havoc years later and miles from the dump site. Mothballs, paint strippers, and many polishes contain suspected human carcinogens. Pool chemicals are highly corrosive.

Following are environmentally preferred disposal tips for hazardous products around the house:

* Paints and solvents should be used up, given to a friend or donated to a community group. Mix odd assortments of leftover paints to make an institutional beige or an all-purpose primer paint. (Mix only paints that share the same base: latex with latex, oil with oil.) As a last resort, dried-out latex paint can be sealed in the can and disposed of in the trash. Solvents, thinners, and strippers should be used up, given away, or taken to a hazardous-waste facility.

* Household batteries should be taken to a hazardous-waste facility. Reduce the need for disposable household batteries by using rechargeable batteries. As for button batteries, many of the stores that sell watches and cameras will take them back for recycling.

* Many service stations and retail stores that sell automotive products take used motor oil for reprocessing. Automotive batteries are also taken for recycling by most stores and service stations that sell them. Brake and transmission fluids and automotive paint should go to a hazardous-waste facility.

* Never put the following products into household trash: gasoline, mothballs, pool chemicals, wood preservatives, photographic chemicals, paint strippers, flea powder and polishes containing nitrobenzene. Use them up, give them away or dispose of them at a hazardous-waste facility.

For information on hazardous waste facilities in Anaheim, Huntington Beach and San Juan Capistrano, call (714) 665-6970.

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