Household Pollutants

You may not realize it, but your home is likely filled with all sorts of possible pollutants. Many everyday products such as paint and lawn chemicals can be dangerous if used or stored improperly, and cause serious environmental damage if tossed in the trash, poured down the sink or washed into the storm sewers. The improper disposal of household wastes can cause problems for the entire community. Wastes can be explosive or highly flammable. Sewers have exploded and garbage trucks have burned because people have carelessly discarded flammable or reactive wastes. Some wastes are poisonous to humans or wildlife, while others can cause cancer, birth defects or other serious medical problems.

What can you do?
Read the information below to find out how you can reduce the amount of pollutants you generate, make sure you are storing and transporting such products properly, and most importantly, dispose of your leftover pollutants properly at the twice-annual Fairgrounds Pollution Collection Event.

Reducing household pollutants

  • Before you buy a product, read the label and make sure that it will do what you want. Buy only what you need.
  • Read and follow directions on how to use a product and dispose of the container.

Storing your pollutants

  • Keep substances in original container and make sure label is attached.
  • If the container starts to leak, enclose it in a larger container, clearly labeled.
  • Maintain a list of stored hazardous products with name of product and date of purchase.
  • Most items should be stored in a cool, dry place, but read label for instructions. Keep incompatible chemical products separated. For example, accidentally mixed HTH chlorine and motor oil can cause a fire.
  • Periodically check containers for deterioration.

If you are unsure of your storage situation, call the experts: Fire Department Hazmat Unit: (918) 596-1255; Tulsa City-County Health Dept.: (918) 582-9355; Stormwater and Land Management: (918) 591-4325.

Transporting your pollutants to a collection facility

  • Wear gloves and use caution when handling substances.
  • Place pollutants in the trunk or as far away from passengers as possible.
  • Do not smoke while handling or transporting chemicals.
  • Do not remove the materials from your car once you arrive at the collection facility. A worker will remove them for you.

Fairgrounds Pollution Collection Event
The Metropolitan Environmental Trust holds two Fairgrounds Pollution Collection Events a year, one in the spring and one in the fall. The events are usually held over a Saturday and Sunday at the Tulsa Fairgrounds. Most household pollutants, including paint thinners, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, pool chemicals, cleansers, acids, caustics, ammunition, batteries, motor oil, antifreeze and other residentially generated materials can be dropped off at no charge during the events. Latex paint is no longer accepted because it can be disposed of with regular trash. For more information or the date of the next event, call the M.e.t. at (918) 584-0584 or visit the M.e.t. website.

Proper Use and Disposal of Latex Paint

Use: If possible, use latex paint instead of oil-based or other paints which require a solvent to clean up. Buy only the amount of paint you need. Most paints list approximate coverage on the label. Measure the area to be painted, simply by multiplying the length of the area by the height. This will give you total square feet. Then measure the area that will not be painted, such as doors and subtract this number from the total square feet to determine the actual area to be painted. Note that different surfaces and colors may require more paint. Ask a sales clerk for assistance in purchasing the correct amount.

Disposal: The best way to dispose of paint is to use it up. If you cannot find use for the paint, give it to someone who can, such as friends, neighbors, schools and community service organizations. Liquid paint should not be poured down the drain, dumped on the ground, or thrown in the trash (when still liquid). Oil-based paint should be tightly sealed in its original container and saved for a local household hazardous waste collection day. Latex, or water-based paints can be left to dry by removing the lid and sitting the can out of the reach of children. When thoroughly dry, the hardened material can be discarded with regular trash. The steel paint can be recycled if there is only a thin coating of latex paint in the can. (Excerpted from the Eaton County Resource Recovery Guide)

 

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