How to Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste Resulting from Hurricane Damage
Household hazardous waste (HHW) generated as a result of damage from Hurricane Sandy includes such things as contaminated petroleum products, paint, and pesticides. HHW should be disposed of properly to protect people’s health and the environment. The New York State Department of Environmental Protection recently issued a notice urging the public to separate potentially hazardous wastes from their regular trash and bring them to one of the newly established drop-off locations or place them on the curb in areas where there will be curbside pickup. For more serious environmental concerns such as chemical or oil spills from heating oil tanks, owners must report them to NYSDEC through the agency’s Spills Hotline at 1-800-457-7362.
Given the size and complexity of the HHW effort in New York City, all HHW is being collected from curbsides in all five boroughs. Owners and managers may leave HHW on the curbside for collection using the following precautions:
Separate HHW from regular trash and from other debris.Items that can be recognized as HHW (such as cans of paint, labeled chemicals, electronic waste, etc.) may simply be placed in a separate spot. If possible, place other wastes in clear plastic bags. If your HHW is not easily recognized (such as black trash bags of oily debris, items in unmarked boxes/bags, etc.), attach a sign to your items saying, "Household Hazardous Waste."
Keep HHW out of the street, and otherwise protect it from damage by vehicles or other causes. Prevent spills of HHW on the curbside. If a container is leaking or in danger of leaking, pack it in another leak-tight container.
The following items are considered HHW and can be placed curbside:
Household cleaners: Ammonia-based cleaners; oven and drain cleaners; floor care products; aerosol cleaners; window cleaners; furniture polish; metal polishes and cleaners; tub, tile, and toilet bowl cleaners.
Paints and related products: Latex, water, and oil-based paints; turpentine paint stripper; rust remover; paint thinner; and varnish.
Automotive fluids: Used motor oil and filters; gasoline and diesel fuel; kerosene; auto body repair products; windshield washer solution; antifreeze; brake and transmission fluid; and metal polish.
Batteries: Lead-acid batteries; rechargeable batteries; NiCad; NiMH; mercury batteries; and car batteries.
Lawn and garden-care products: Bug spray; fertilizer; pesticides; fungicides; herbicides; and products that kill rodents.
Beauty products: Alcohol-based lotions; isopropyl alcohol; nail polish and remover; hair relaxers; dyes and permanents; and products in aerosol cans.
Miscellaneous: Fluorescent lights; mercury thermometers; photographic chemicals; lighter fluids; shoe polish; fiberglass epoxy; swimming pool chemicals; moth balls; and glue.
Items Not Accepted Curbside
The following items are not accepted curbside (drop-off locations only):
- Ammunition and guns;
- Building or construction materials;
- Infectious medical wastes;
- Expired or damaged medicines; and
- Tires or other automotive parts.
Other Items Contaminated with Oil or Flood Waters
Oil-contaminated debris or material contaminated by other petroleum or chemical products should be separated and stored in a well-ventilated area. If placed on the curb, they should be placed in transparent trash bags or labeled, if possible. If large amounts are stored outdoors (such as oil-soaked dry wall debris), the piles should be covered to keep rain from contaminating nearby soil and water.
Note that items touched by flood waters may contain bacteria from sewage or toxic chemicals from garden chemicals, fuels, or other sources. Porous items should be dried right away to prevent mold. If possible, household furnishings should be cleaned and disinfected. If they can’t be cleaned, they should be discarded. Hard, nonporous surfaces should also be cleaned.