A healthy environment starts at home.
How can you protect your neighbors, family, and environment? We and our partners offer a set of resources, tips, and recipes to help you make your home safer and our Great Lake greater.
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Household hazardous wastes must be handled properly.
In the Greater Cleveland Area, we live and work in a watershed that flows to Lake Erie. In our daily lives, we use many products that contain chemicals that may be hazardous to the environment. Examples include: cleaners, polishes, anti-freeze, used motor oil, pesticides, batteries, paints, paint thinners, furniture strippers, mercury thermometers, and other products. The hazards increase when these products are improperly used or discarded.
Household hazardous products can be toxic, corrosive, reactive, flammable, or explosive. Labels on these products may contain the words “caution,” “warning,” or “danger.” If not used properly, some of these products can cause skin irritation, headaches, respiratory ailments, or other symptoms.
How can these products affect Lake Erie?
Many hazardous household products can enter our watershed through improper disposal or even normal use. When these products are rinsed down a drain inside your house, they travel through the sewers to one of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s three wastewater treatment plants.
Although the wastewater treatment plants provide a high level of treatment to the wastewater that they receive, the treatment process is not designed to remove all of the substances in these products, which may pass through the treatment plant and reach the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie.
In addition, many storm sewers flow directly to a local river or the lake. If these products are rinsed down outside drains or street sewers, they may likewise flow into local waterways such as Big Creek, Chagrin River, Doan Brook, Dugway Brook, Euclid Creek, Mill Creek, Nine Mile Creek, Rocky River, and Lake Erie, and can harm aquatic life.
What can you do?
Adjust your habits.
For example, rather than applying pesticides to your entire yard to kill a few weeds, apply the pesticide just to the affected area or, better yet, pull the weeds by hand. Clean up spills of hazardous substances immediately instead of letting them dry, which makes them more difficult to remove. If you are going to use a product that might be hazardous, purchase only the quantity you need and follow the package directions carefully.
Practice proper disposal.
Take advantage of the household hazardous waste collections offered throughout Northeast Ohio. Residents can use these events to dispose of unwanted oil-based paints, pesticides, and other hazardous substances. For example, the District offers regular “Pitch Those Pills!” events for pharmaceutical and mercury-containing device drop-off.
The Cuyahoga County Solid Waste District also offers a variety of resources and recycling recommendations.