It’s amazing just how much “stuff” we can accumulate around the house. Many of these items can be donated, sold at a garage sale or simply tossed in recycling or trash containers. Many items such as paints, solvents, pesticides, pool chemicals, automotive fluids, etc. are not so easy to dispose of. These are considered household hazardous waste. Many of these items are harmless if used as intended, however, if disposed of improperly, they can be harmful to our health and safety, as well as to our environment.
Do you have pesticides, used motor oil, old paint, household cleaners, swimming pool chemicals, furniture strippers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and wood preservatives that you no longer use? If you do, then you have your fair share of household hazardous waste. The average house has an estimated 3 to 10 gallons of hazardous products. Collectively, these materials can contaminate our drinking water; cause injuries, poisonings and air pollution.
A hazardous waste is any unwanted chemical material from your home or farm that can harm you, other people, or the environment, when improperly stored or discarded. Many pesticides, household cleaners, paints and automotive products can become household hazardous waste.
If you are storing many of these products and are waiting for just the right time to get rid of them, that time will be Saturday, Oct. 26, when Lee County will hold its annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day. This free event, sponsored by Lee County Solid Waste Division, NCDA Pesticide Assistance Program and N.C. Cooperative Extension, will take place at the Dennis Wicker Civic Center from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and will be for all Lee County households and farmers.
In preparation for the event, walk through your garage, storage buildings, look in your kitchen cabinets, pantry and cleaning closets and collect all the hazardous waste you no longer want or use. Place these items in a cardboard box, put the box in your trunk and bring it to the collection site at the Civic Center. As you approach the Civic Center, be aware of the traffic routing into and through the collection area. Vehicles are to enter the back of the Civic Center just off Kelly Drive. Follow the signs around to the side of the Civic Center where trained personnel will remove your hazardous material — you don’t even have to get out of the car! Once items are removed from your car, you exit the parking lot onto Nash Street. It’s really that simple and so convenient!
Items to be collected include: oil-based paint, drain cleaners, paint thinners, motor oil, furniture strippers, brake fluid, kitchen cleaners, gasoline, bathroom cleaners, antifreeze, pesticides, transmission fluid, herbicides, solvents, insecticides, degreasers, batteries, CFL light bulbs and pool chemicals. In 2012, 356 vehicles delivered over 23,790 pounds of paint and paint-related materials, 741 pounds of unwanted pesticides and 413 pounds of batteries. While motor oil, cooking oil, antifreeze, oil filters will also be accepted, county residents can drop these items off daily at the six convenience centers found throughout Lee County.
Hazardous materials that are not separated and handled properly can generate air, water and land pollution. They also pose a serious threat to the health of children, adults, animals and the environment when poured in drains, septic tanks and in the trash, For further information on household hazardous waste or the Lee County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day, contact Lee County Solid Waste at (919) 718-4622 or N.C. Cooperative Extension, Lee County Center at (919) 775-5624.
Susan C. Condlin is County Extension Director with N.C. Cooperative Extension in Lee County.