The average local home could have dozens of pounds of household hazardous waste that could threaten the health of residents and the environment if not disposed of properly, according to a recent advisory from the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District.
The public message served to remind people in the San Ramon Valley and the rest of Central San's service area of free drop-off disposal available at the district's Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility in Martinez.
Last fiscal year, "more than 55,000 people used the facility to properly dispose of 2,038,084 pounds of hazardous waste," David Wyatt, facility supervisor, said in a statement. "The communities we serve are committed to keeping hazardous waste out of our waterways and environment."
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average home could have as many as 100 pounds of household hazardous waste, which is considered as leftover or unneeded household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable or reactive ingredients or that might be ecologically harmful, Central San officials said.
"That's why it is illegal in California to dispose of household hazardous waste in the trash or down any drain," district officials said.
And Central San customers have largely answered the call, Wyatt said, noting that 32 million pounds of household hazardous waste have been brought to the district's collection facility for reuse, recycling or safe disposal since it opened in 1997.
The drop-off is free for residents who live in the district's service area, with some volume limitations, while small businesses are required to make an appointment and pay a fee.
Central San representatives urged local residents to check twice through household items that they might not think qualify as hazardous waste:
* Antibacterial soap may contain Triclosan, a toxic chemical that is harmful to aquatic organisms.
* Batteries (even the tiny one in watches) contain metals and other toxic or corrosive materials.
* Fluorescent light bulbs (even energy-efficient CFL bulbs) contain toxic mercury.
* Pesticides are poisons; even so-called "safer" choices may contain toxic ingredients such as pyrethroids, pyrethrins or permethrin.
* Wood preservatives may contain copper, dioxin or tributyltin -- toxic compounds that are hazardous to ecosystems.
* Paint products may contain solvents and pigments that are flammable or known carcinogens. Some older paints may even contain mercury.
Other forms of common household hazardous waste, according to district officials, include:
* Cleaning products such as bleach, oven cleaners and furniture polish.
* Personal care products such as fingernail polish and hair color.
* Automotive products such as motor oil, gasoline and antifreeze.
* Garden products such as herbicides and fertilizers.
The Central San Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility is located at 4797 Imhoff Place in Martinez. It's open Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. State regulations limit container sizes to five gallons or less, and not more than 15 gallons or 125 pounds per visit, according to the district.
For more information, call 800-646-1431 or visit the Central San website.