Contact: Anne Perry Moore, 218-723-2356
Duluth, Minn. -- Rather than guessing about what to do with those old prescriptions and mysterious bottles in the back of your medicine cabinet, or the unlabeled containers left by the previous owner of your home, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is recommending easy ways to dispose of potentially hazardous wastes.
· Start by taking an inventory of your home's easily-identified usable products. Tighten the lids on those items you use regularly and return them to a storage location out of children's reach. Bring any products you can't identify to a household hazardous waste collection site. The trained staff can make sure that all materials are disposed of safely.
· Expired or unwanted medications may be disposed of in the trash after taking a few simple steps. Start by scratching off personal information on the label. Pour a small amount of water into containers of pills or capsules to partially dissolve them. For liquid medications, add table salt, flour or a non-toxic spice such as tumeric or mustard to discourage anyone from ingesting them. For tablets in a blister pack, wrap the pack in multiple layers of duct tape. Finally, place the medication container in another, opaque container with a lid, such as a plastic margarine tub, to conceal the contents. Keep the materials away from children and place the materials into the garbage as close as possible to your trash pick-up day.
· Bathroom-related products that can go into the trash include old cosmetics and skin creams. The same is true for water-based glues, joint compounds, empty aerosol cans, alkaline batteries and fertilizers.
· Products that may be poured safely down the drains connected to a municipal wastewater treatment system include: bleach, ammonia-based cleaners, disinfectants, drain cleaners, hair dyes and wave solutions, toilet bowl, tub and tile cleaners and rust removers. Make sure to pour each separately and flush the line with water, before pouring a different product down the drain. Potential -- and serious -- problems could result if you mix any product with another in a sink or toilet. People living in homes connected to a septic system may dispose of these items in the garbage, except for drain cleaners. Drain cleaners should be dropped off at a household hazardous waste facility.
· Products requiring disposal at your local household hazardous waste collection site include: alcohol-based lotions such as perfumes and aftershave, solvent-based cleaners, oil-based paint, hair removers, nail polish and polish removers, window cleaners, floorcare products and oven cleaners. The same is true for most items stored in a garage or workshop, such as paints and stains, paint thinner, roofing tars, driveway sealer, motor oil, filters and other automotive products, charcoal lighter fluid and other fuels, fertilizers with weed killer, insect killers, mothballs, pesticides, pool chemicals, non-empty aerosol cans, shoe polish and spot removers.
Easier ways to solve disposal dilemmas include: switching to safer alternative products that are water-based instead of solvent-based, buying pump-spray containers instead of aerosols, buying the right amount of the right product for the intended job, giving away unused products to others seeking them, and taking advantage of product-exchange programs whenever possible.
Proper household hazardous waste disposal is worth the effort -- people and the environment are better-protected from unintentional pollution, our groundwater is safer for drinking, and fish and other aquatic wildlife are less likely to be affected. When in doubt about what to do with any potentially-hazardous product, call your county's solid waste office or the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency at 1-800-657-3864. You can also visit the agency's Web site at: www.pca.state.mn.us/hhw .