two people at a hazadous waste drop off site

As another way of protecting the water that we all drink, it’s important to dispose of household hazardous waste properly and safely. This goes for both urban dwellers, and those living in rural parts of the Cataraqui Source Protection Area.

Governments and environmental agencies consider leftover household products that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic as falling within the parameters of household hazardous waste.

Everyday products, such as paints, cleaners, oils, batteries, and pesticides can contain hazardous ingredients and require particular care when you dispose of them. Using them the wrong way, as well as improper storage and disposal of these produces can mean toxic chemicals could enter groundwater and surface water , contaminating sources of drinking water. For example, these kinds of products should never be poured down the drain, into a storm sewer or in the regular garbage, or in a river, lake or stream.

Local municipalities have a list of household hazardous waste products on their websites, but common products under this banner would include: acids, aerosols (toxic cleaners, sprays, lubricants), antifreeze, cleaning fluids (especially those with ammonia and bleach), drain and oven cleaners, fertilizers, fire extinguishers, fluorescent tubes and bulbs, gasoline, oil and barbecue starter, anything containing mercury, oil filters, oxidizers, paints and solvents, pesticides and poison, pharmaceuticals, pool chemicals, propane cylinders, sharp objects (e.g. knives) thermometers, any sort of vehicle battery as well as household batteries.

It's in the best interest of everyone to ensure that dangerous chemicals, organic solvents, and related products are kept out of drinking water. For example, around your home, never pour any unwanted products onto the ground outside, as they will be easily absorbed and sift through into any underground water sources nearby.

When dealing with any sort of fuel or oil, be it for motor vehicles, implements, or for heating purposes, do everything possible to avoid leaks and spillage, especially from containers left in storage, even in the home. Even tiny amounts of a dangerous chemical can pose a major threat to drinking water, especially if near a water body, water course or well.

The same goes for a cadre of products called organic solvents, which is a chemical that creates a solution when it dissolves another substance. These solvents are petroleum based and are found in paints/paint removers, varnishes, adhesives, de-greasing/cleaning products, and pesticides/fungicides. These solvents, when ingested even in small doses, have proved to be toxic for both humans and animals.

Many area communities offer special household hazardous waste disposal days, where, at designated locations organized by municipal staff, they can drop off these items. Some municipalities have places at their landfill/waste disposal sites where these items can be disposed of properly.

Other hazardous items that would not be allowed to be disposed of through municipal sites include any form of ammunition, explosives, flares. Electronics and construction/renovation debris have their own places for disposal/recycling. Again, contact your local municipality for details on how and where you can dispose of household hazardous waste and any restrictions they may have.

Sources: City of Kingston, Township of Leeds and the 1000 Islands, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Quinte Conservation.

drinking water source protection - out actions matter