Hazardous Materials

Photo by J. Owen, 2007

Did you know...

Americans generate 1.6 millions tons of household hazardous waste per year.

Household Hazardous Waste includes medications, cleaners, stains, varnishes, batteries, automotive fluids, pesticides, herbicides, certain paints, and many other items found in basements, under kitchen sinks, and in garages. Many of these materials are flammable, corrosive, explosive, or are toxic or poisonous to humans or the environment.

These materials need to be disposed of safely to avoid harming humans and the environment.

You can help!

Use only what you need

If you use products with hazardous components, purchase and use only the amount needed. Leftover amounts need to be disposed of safely (and legally). See: Proper Disposal Methods (PDF)

Dispose of leftover hazardous products safely

Never pour hazardous waste down the sink or storm drain; the chemicals can end up in local waterways or groundwater. If you throw them in the trash, the chemicals can endanger collection and disposal workers.

  • Dispose of household medications safely (brochure)

  • Take your household hazardous waste to Whatcom County's Disposal of Toxics

    • 3505 Airport Drive, Bellingham (one block west of the airport entrance)

    • 360-380-4640

    • Open Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    • Residents: Free (55 gallons or less)

    • Accepts used oil and fuels, oil-based paint and paint products, good usable latex paint, fluorescent lamps, cleaners, lawn and garden chemicals, solvents, automotive products, and mercury thermometers.

Reduce pesticide use or use safer pesticides

Pesticides are poisonous. Besides killing bugs and weeds, they may also poison children, irritate eyes or skin, or kill birds and fish. Try non-chemical products to control pests such as making insect repellents using common household items like garlic, vinegar, and cooking oil. Call the Whatcom County Extension Office for more tips: 360-676-6736.

Use less toxic cleaners

Some cleaners contain hazardous ingredients that can result in skin, eye, and lung irritation. Look for cleaners that are less caustic and friendlier to both humans and the environment. Look for "green" and "non-toxic" cleaners, or products that are biodegradable. Also, remember that less is more. Many household cleaners can be diluted with water and clean quite effectively.

Recycle used motor oil

Oil dumped in storm drains is not treated and ends up in our streams and lakes, affecting fish and birds. For curbside collection, place your motor oil in a well-marked, tightly sealed plastic jug (do not use bleach bottles) and set out next to recyclables. Disposal of Toxics has oil and antifreeze collection stations set up throughout Whatcom County (List of Locations).