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Dumping These Things in the Trash Can Be Hazardous and Illegal

 Some household items are actually more dangerous than one would think, so much so that The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proclaimed them hazardous waste. These dangerous items are highly flammable or otherwise hazardous, and they can lead to explosions, fires, or even pollute the environment with toxic chemicals.
But throwing away these items in the regular trash isn’t just extremely dangerous, it’s also illegal in most US states and New York City. That’s exactly why the EPA has special guidelines for the disposal and safe management of these household items which we've listed below.

1. Rechargeable Batteries

hazardous household waste Rechargeable Batteries
You may know that ordinary batteries are no longer considered a household hazard, which means that they can be thrown in the trash, but should you do it? Many recycling experts say 'no', as alkaline batter are all highly combustible, and if you leave them in the trash, they could cause a fire. Rechargeable batteries, though, are still considered dangerous, as they often contain flammable and corrosive materials like acid, lead, lithium, nickel, cadmium, mercury, and others.
The same applies to button batteries, phone batteries, and uninterruptible power supply (UPS) batteries, so make sure to take all of the old batteries in your home to a recycling center. Some home supply stores, such as Home Depot, also accept batteries for recycling.

2. Thermometers and Thermostats

hazardous household waste Thermostat
A tiny thing like a thermostat or a thermometer can pose a huge danger for both people and the environment, it turns out. This is because some thermometers and thermostats contain mercury, a neurotoxin so extremely dangerous to humans that some US states banned the sale of thermometers that contain mercury altogether.
When a person is exposed to mercury, it causes irreversible harm to the nervous system, internal organs, and the immune system, or even death. Therefore, you must be extremely careful when dealing with a mercury thermostat or thermometer in your home. If you need to switch out an old thermostat or thermometer, opt for digital ones instead or mercury-based ones, and it's best if you let a contractor do the replacement of an old thermostat. This not only because they know better how to work with it, but also because contractors are required by law to properly dispose of mercury thermostats.

3. Motor Oil

hazardous household waste Motor Oil
Owning a car means dealing with a lot of dangerous, flammable, and toxic materials. Car owners also carry the responsibility to recycle and dispose of certain car parts and car maintenance equipment safely. The first two examples of such items are engine oil and transmission fluid, both routine things every car owner uses for car upkeep all the time. Both of these fluids are extremely dangerous for human health and the environment if not treated carefully.
It's especially important not to flush any leftover motor oil down the drain. It's illegal in most places, as the oil can be carried to large bodies of water and contaminate them, killing aquatic life. The easiest way to dispose of motor oil or transmission fluid is by taking it to a recycling center or returning it to any service station.

4. Tires

hazardous household waste Tire
Ordinarily, tires don't pose a threat to humans or the environment, but if they happen to catch fire, tires will produce acrid smoke, which is a threat to both human health and nature. In addition to that, the steel belts used in tires can damage landfill liners, which can result in ground contamination. If you replace old tires at the car service center, the mechanics will typically take care of the recycling, but what should you do if you're changing them on your own?
Obviously, you can’t just dump the old tires in the trash. You have a few options: either return the tires to a car dealership or tire shop, and they will dispose of them safely for a symbolic fee, or take them to the shop you bought your new tires - chances are that they will recycle them for you for free, as these businesses are required by law to recycle as many tires as they sell.

5. Old Electronics

hazardous household waste old tv set
Old electronics are tricky to dispose of properly on your own, as they consist of thousands of small elements made of hundreds of different materials. Still, experts say that recycling old electronics properly is extremely important, as many of them contain heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium, and beryllium, as well as other elements that are toxic to the environment.
To discard them properly instead of just tossing them in the trash, consider donating them to a charity, trading them in for a discount on new electronics, or recycling them at specialized recycling centers. Some big electronics stores also offer recycling services. In addition, certain companies can even offer to recycle their products for you if you mail it to them, so contacting them is worth a shot. As you can see, there are many options available these days, and we have even more tips on the topic in the article E-Cycling: The Cleanest Way To Get Rid of Old Computers.

6. Gasoline

hazardous household waste Gasoline
It's no secret that gasoline is highly flammable, and thus it is very dangerous. Leaving it in a trashcan outside can spark fires or explosions. If it comes into contact with your eyes, it can lead to severe injuries, and ingesting or simply touching it with bare hands can result in toxicity, extreme skin irritation, or even death.
Therefore, it's instrumental to purchase gasoline in quantities you'll surely use it up quickly, and it's also extremely important to recycle gasoline at facilities equipped to handle them, such as recycling centers or car repair centers.

7. Car Batteries

hazardous household waste Car Battery
Image Source: Asim Bharwani/ Flickr
The vast majority of vehicle batteries consist of lead and sulphuric acid: both of these chemicals pose many risks to human health, particularly the nervous system, the brain, internal organs, and the reproductive organs. This is why old car batteries must be recycled in specialized facilities.
Which facilities are equipped to handle and recycle vehicle batteries? Recycling centers, scrap metal facilities, and car repair centers are some examples. In addition, you may consider simply returning the old battery to the place you bought it, as you may get a discount purchasing a new battery when you return the old one. Some places even have a surcharge
that you will receive back if you return it for safe disposal.

8. Asbestos

hazardous household waste Asbestos

Asbestos is a toxic material that can infiltrate the lungs and cause long-term damage and chronic lung issues. It has been widely used in homes until 1978 when it was finally banned completely. Still, many homes built before that time may actually contain asbestos, and so many people may be getting rid of this hazardous item when refurbishing their house.

Simply throwing out the asbestos in the trash, however, is extremely dangerous, as it can harm both other humans and the environment in general. The EPA recommends contacting a chemical waste company that will help you with the safe disposal of asbestos.

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