Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)Contact: Christine Grossman, firstname.lastname@example.org 517-284-6860
Household hazardous waste (HHW) includes products that we purchase and use every day in our homes that contain materials that can harm us or the environment. Common household products that are a HHW when discarded are listed below. Look for words such as 'warning,' 'caution,' 'flammable,' 'toxic,' 'poison,' ‘corrosive,’ ‘oxidizer,’ etc. on the labels. If you have leftover, unwanted household materials that are hazardous, it is best to routinely take them to a local HHW collection, if a collection is available, instead of sending them to a landfill. Never pour HHW into a storm drain or down a drain in your home.
Please keep in mind that not all HHW collection programs are able to accept each of these materials, but they may know where else to take them or how to manage them instead. They may also be able to help you with another special household waste not listed.
These pages contain information helpful to collecting discarded materials not subject to hazardous waste regulation.
Questions About Health Effects
For help with questions about the health effects from contaminants in the home and environment, contact the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Toxics Hotline at 800-648-6942. DHHS has toxicologists on hand to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. For help if someone accidentally ingests common household products, contact the Michigan Poison Center at 800-222-1222 or call your local emergency responder phone number.
Household Hazardous Waste Hazards
To learn more about HHW and their hazards, click on the icon for the material listed below.
REDUCE HHW BY
- Checking the label before you buy - If you see a cautionary notice, understand that this material will become a household hazardous waste if not used up properly.
- Using the product as the manufacturer instructs - Companies are required to test their products to comply with federal regulations. Directions should be followed to get maximum benefit from the products you use without compromising your safety.
- Buying only what you need - Some products cost more to dispose than they do to purchase. So use forethought when purchasing products that may be costly for you or your community to dispose.
- Storing products safely - Children, pets, and others may accidentally injure themselves if products are not safely stored. So make sure these types of materials are stored according to manufacturer instructions, out of harm's way. If you have questions about proper handling of household hazardous waste, contact your County Recycling and HHW Coordinator, wastewater treatment plant or department of public works.
- Acids/Bases - Materials like muriatic acid, battery acid, trisodium phosphate and swimming pool chemicals can readily burn skin.
- Aerosol Cans – Many products are delivered in aerosol cans. Aerosol cans are used to deliver cooking sprays, degreasing materials, lubricating materials, and even medications. Aerosol cans often contain materials that are ignitable, corrosive, and toxic. When compacted, aerosol cans can also present an explosion hazard.
- Antifreeze – Antifreeze is a mixture of water, coolant, and additives. It is used to protect engines and other equipment from overheating and corroding. It also protects engines from freezing in low temperatures. If you maintain your personal vehicles, boats, or home solar collectors, you may have waste antifreeze. Waste antifreeze when ingested can harm the kidneys, nervous system, lungs and heart.
- Batteries – Batteries are used in many products. They contain metals that may be toxic and acids that can burn. Lead acid batteries are found in cars. Dry cell batteries are commonly used in flashlights and toys. Rechargeable batteries are often found in power tools, cameras, and phones. Button batteries or lithium batteries are often found in hearing aids, watches, and other small electronic devices. See the US DOT advisory of battery transport and consider taping the ends of dry cell, rechargeable, and lithium batteries so they do not touch each other and potentially spark during transport. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation sponsors free collection and recycling of rechargeable batteries throughout the country in cooperation with retail partners.
- Compressed Gas Cylinders – Compressed gas cylinders, like small and large propane canisters pose an explosion hazard and contain a flammable gas.
- Electronic Waste (e-waste) – Electronics, such as computers, computer monitors, televisions, laptops, VCRs, cell phones, printers, computer mice, remote controls, telephones, video games, fax machines, and printers, often contain toxic materials such as lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury, and fire retardants. To learn more about EGLE's e-waste program, see Michigan.gov/EGLEeWaste.
- Foam Food Containers and Packing Materials – Foam food containers or packing materials are made from polystyrene. Like plastic, they are not biodegradable. Where available recycling clean foam containers is encouraged.
- Gasoline and Other Solvents – Gasoline and other fuels are ignitable and toxic. So are most solvents. Breathing even small amounts of vapors can cause nose and throat irritation, breathing difficulties, headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and confusion.
- Light Bulbs - Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), traditional fluorescent bulbs, green tip fluorescent bulbs, light emitting diode bulbs, and high intensity discharge lamps are a popular way to reduce energy use, but may include toxic materials like mercury, lead, and arsenic.
- Medications - Medications are biologically active chemicals. When not secured and taken as directed, they can be toxic and addictive. Medications should be stored in their original containers in a secure manner, so they are not easy to access. When they are no longer needed, they should be disposed through a household take back program where possible. Search the EGLE interactive map to locate controlled substance, solid medication and liquid medication collections across Michigan. To determine if your medication is a controlled substance, please see this list. If a collection is not available, follow the instruction in the Save a Life Card or MI EnviroMINUTE YouTube video. Learn more about drug disposal at Michigan.gov/EGLEDrugDisposal
- Medical Infectious Waste – Medical waste includes materials like unwanted needles and lancets, also called sharps. Where a collection is available, these items are generally disinfected prior to being recycled or disposal. To find a medical waste collection, please see the EGLE interactive map or contact your County Recycling and HHW Coordinator. Learn more about medical waste disposal at Michigan.gov/EGLEMedWaste
- Mercury - For decades mercury has received attention as a serious pollutant because it is toxic and it bioaccumulates in living organisms. Mercury can be found in unwanted thermostats and thermometer.
- Paints and Stains - Oil-based paint and stains often contain toxic solvents and pigments. Latex paint sometimes contains toxic pigments. For additional options for paint recycling, see the American Coatings Association drop off sites.
- Pesticides - Pesticides are designed to be toxic, so they should be managed carefully and taken to a collection that will provide for them to be incinerated, to destroy the chemicals in the pesticides. Be sure to follow the label instructions at all times as required by law.
- Smoke Detectors - Some smoke detectors use a tiny radioactive source to detect smoke. You will know if it does because it will have a radiation symbol printed on its label. The best way to get rid of a smoke detector with a radioactive source is to send it back to the manufacturer. Check the label for contact information or check this list published by the United States Postal Service. If the manufacturer does not have a take back program and the smoke detector HAS NOT been damaged, it is safe to dispose of it by ordinary municipal trash. If the smoke detector HAS been damaged, please contact EGLE Radioactive Materials Unit at RadioactiveMaterial@Michigan.gov so that we can help ensure that it is disposed of safely.
- Tires - Scrap tires pose a fire risk and a human health risk as mosquito breeding grounds. Learn more about scrap tire handling, disposal and recycling requirements, see Michigan.gov/ScrapTires
- Used Motor Oil - Oil picks up small particles of metal and dirt as it lubricates a car engine which can make it toxic. See the Household Do-It-Yourselfer (DIY) Used Motor Oil and Filters Guide to learn more about recycling household used oil.