Spring cleaning is good for your health
Spring is here. The longer days, warmer temperatures, and of course the traditional spring house cleaning. Among the items that might be thrown out during spring cleaning are potentially dangerous household hazardous wastes (HHW), such as paint, gasoline, oil, burned-out fluorescent lights, and nearly empty cans of wasp and hornet spray that can harm the environment and public health.
The King County Hazardous product and disposal list provides information about potential hazards, proper disposal options, and safer alternatives for a variety of common household products. Here are the basics.
How do you tell if it is hazardous?
Read the label. Look for the words Poison, Danger, Warning or Caution on the product label.
Poison and Danger indicate the highest hazard levels. Poison means that a product is highly toxic, and can cause injury or death if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin
Danger means that a product is either highly toxic, flammable, or corrosive. Look for the word "danger" on cleaners, polishes, paint strippers and pesticides. "Danger" means the product could poison you, cause serious damage to your skin or eyes, or easily cause a fire.
Warning and Caution both indicate that a product is toxic, corrosive, reactive or flammable.
- Products that don't have any of these words on the label are least hazardous.
Toxic household products
Get rid of old and unwanted bug killers, automotive supplies, lawn and garden pesticides, cleaners, degreasers, fluorescent light bulbs and personal care products. If the labels say CAUTION, WARNING, DANGER and POISON (and cannot go in the garbage) they can burn, poison, or react dangerously. Find the traveling Wastemobile or the hazardous waste disposal sites near you at: www.govlink.org/hazwaste/house/disposal/ .
Don't let this be your garage!
(notice fire fighter in back)
Old TVs and computers
Computer screens and televisions contain lead and are considered hazardous waste. Effective January 2009, electronics manufacturers began offering a new program called E-Cycle Washington that allows residents to recycle their computers, monitors, laptops and TVs for free. Residents can drop off these items at authorized E-Cycle Washington collection sites.
Clean out unwanted or expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs from your medicine cabinets and drawers. Group Health and Bartell Drugs are partners in a state-wide pilot project that takes back unwanted household medicines for free. Collection locations and other information regarding this program can be found on the Medicine Take Back website. At this time the program cannot accept controlled substances (narcotics).
Prepare before the flood season Don’t get caught in a flood with hazardous stuff. It’ll end up polluting our environment or groundwater, or endangering your family. Get rid of what you can and store what you have off the floor. Call the Household Hazards Line at 206-296-4692 for help getting prepared.
For your friends or family members with small businessesCertain small businesses can take advantage of free hazardous waste disposal and other services. Call the Business Waste Line at 206-263-8899 (1-800-325-6165, ext. 3-8899) or visit the Small Business Hazardous Waste Disposal web site for more information.
Need more information?
- To see the Wastemobile’s schedule click here.
- Click here to download a brochure about household hazardous materials and local drop off facilities.
- To find out more about household hazardous materials and how you can safely dispose them visit the web page for the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County.
- Call Local Hazardous Waste Management Program’s Hazards Line at 206-296-4692, Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., except holidays. (Recorded information is available after hours.)