HAMPTON ROADS, Va. — You are spring cleaning and ready to toss out old paint cans, florescent light bulbs and motor oil. But do you know how to properly dispose of these and other leftover household hazardous waste (HHW) products? To point Hampton Roads residents in the right direction, askHRgreen.org publishes an online Recycling &Disposal Lookup Guide with HHW disposal options per community guidelines at askhrgreen.org/recycling-lookup.

“Leftover household hazardous waste products do not belong in the trash, recycling bin or down the toilet. Nor should they be released into yards, waterways and storm drains, where they can harm our coastal environment,” said Katie Cullipher, an askHRgreen.org team leader. “Take any household hazardous waste products to your community’s HHW facility, where they will be disposed of properly and at no cost to you.”

The Environmental Protection Agency defines HHW as leftover household chemicals that can catch fire, react and explode, or that are corrosive or toxic. Common HHW includes products used for house cleaning, pest removal, automotive care, lawn and garden upkeep and home projects.

If leaked or dumped in ditches or yards, the hazardous chemicals and poisons can leach into groundwater, contaminate soil and run off into nearby waterways. In addition to harming the environment, improper disposal of such wastes can pose a threat to human health. Certain types of HHW have the potential to cause physical injury to sanitation workers and contaminate septic tanks or wastewater treatment systems if poured down drains or toilets. They can also present hazards to children and pets if left around the house.

“Along with knowing how to safely dispose of HHW, it is important to be a smart consumer when purchasing such items and to know how and where to store them,” Cullipher said. She offered these tips:

  • When buying products, read the labels and select non-hazardous or less-hazardous components that do the same job.
  • Buy and use only the amount needed for your project. Leftovers can be shared or donated.
  • Keep all products in their original containers, labeled and sealed.
  • Store them away from the elements in a secured, preferably locked area.

Residents can also use the online Recycling & Disposal Lookup Guide to check for special HHW collection events in their community and take the items to their local facility for proper disposal.

The Southeastern Public Service Authority and Virginia Peninsula Public Service Authority also operate HHW and electronics collection sites and host events for residents in the communities they serve. Check their websites for dates and details.

For more guidelines and tips for keeping Hampton Roads clean and green, visit askHRgreen.org.

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