Many Iowans are in the midst of major spring cleaning projects and Tom Anderson, with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, is hoping they’ll avoid tossing everything in the trash or dumping dangerous liquids down the drain. Anderson leads the D.N.R.’s Household Hazardous Materials (HHM) program.
“The common perception is it’s just regular household trash, when in fact it’s not,” Anderson said. “There’s a whole host of things to can and have happened when household hazardous materials are mixed together.” HHMs, when combined, could endanger people and equipment.
“Incompatible materials certainly have caused fires. They can emit toxic vapors, which corrodes garbage truck equipment and the equipment out at the landfill. Certainly, the sanitation workers’ health is also a concern,” Anderson said. According to Anderson, the first step in handling HHMs is reading the product label.
He says many products make household chores easier, but people should also take responsibility for proper storage and disposal. Anderson says Regional Collection Centers (RCCs) located across the state provide safe disposal of unwanted HHMs at no cost and also provide a
“Most of the RCCs, if I need a half a can of paint instead of a full can, I can go in and they have that,” Anderson explained. “Or cleaners and other common products, that are certainly usable, I can get them there rather than go to a store and buy a larger container that I don’t need.” The usable materials are available at no charge. Most counties in the state also schedule cleanup dates once or twice a year so residents can dispose of HHMs at little or no cost.
For more information on HHMs and a listing of Iowa’s RCCs – visit: www.safesmartsolutions.org