Handling Hazardous Materials

How To Recognize HHW Products
Household hazardous wastes exhibit at least one of the following properties:
  • Corrosive substances or vapors - can burn skin on contact and can eat away the surface of other materials
    • Oven and toilet bowl cleaners
  • Flammable - usually liquids that easily ignite and burn
    • Lighter fluid, spot and paint removers
  • Reactive - reacts with air, water, or another substance to produce toxic vapors or explode
    • Bleach when mixed with ammonia-based cleaners
  • Toxic - even in small quantities may immediately poison, or cause injury or even death through repeated exposure, when inhaled into the lungs, eaten, swallowed or absorbed through the skin
    • Rat poison, pesticides, or bleach

Warning Words

Check the label for the following warning words:
  • Danger - the product is highly flammable, explosive, and/or reactive, or is a capable of causing injury on contact with eyes or skin.
  • Poison - the product is extremely toxic (a taste to 1 tsp. is the fatal dose).
  • Warning - the product is moderately toxic (1 tsp. to 1 tbs. is the fatal dose), can cause skin injury with prolonged contact with skin, or has a moderate chance of catching fire or reacting with another chemical.
  • Caution - the product is mildly toxic (1 oz to 1 pt is the fatal dose) or a possible skin irritant.

Tips For Handling, Using, & Storing HHW
When handled, stored, and used correctly, HHW doesn't pose too many environmental problems.
  • Buy a non-hazardous or the least hazardous product for the job, i.e., choose a product with a "caution" label over one with a "warning" label.
  • Buy multi-use products instead of highly specialized items that might go unused for months.
  • Buy only what you need.
  • Buy pesticides and similar items that have a localized application, e.g. roach bait discs instead of fumigants.
  • Follow all safety precautions.
  • Keep all pertinent information regarding use, storage, and disposal.
  • Keep container tightly sealed and in a secure location.
  • Keep products in their original containers.
  • Never mix products.
  • Use a product only for its intended purpose.