"Household hazardous waste" means hazardous waste generated by households that is ignitable, toxic, reactive, corrosive, or otherwise poses a threat to human health or the environment (as defined in 329 IAC 8-2-6). Hazardous waste from households is not regulated as hazardous waste under federal and Indiana laws, but it is regulated as a solid waste. Despite its name, solid waste can be a solid, semisolid, liquid, or a contained gas.
Citizens are responsible for properly disposing of their solid waste in a state-permitted landfill, disposal facility, or recycling center. It is illegal to open dump or open burn solid waste in Indiana. Environmentally friendly alternatives to open dumping and open burning are available. Citizens can contact their local solid waste management district (listed on the Association of Indiana Solid Waste Management Districts’ website) and/or local government agency (listed at MyLocal.IN.gov) to find household hazardous waste (HHW) collection programs, such as drop-off sites, where HHW will be properly managed, disposed of, recycled, and/or reused. Marion County residents can find HHW drop-off sites at Indy.gov, since Marion County does not have a solid waste management district.
Health and Environmental Concerns
Proper management of HHW is important because careless management (e.g., pouring HHW down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or putting it out with the regular trash) can create significant environmental and public health hazards. Therefore, careful management of the disposal of HHW is important for all Indiana residents.
Where to Dispose of Household Hazardous Wastes
Contact your local Solid Waste Management District for information about safe disposal opportunities for household hazardous waste. Districts may offer disposal in the form of daily collection or special events. Residents of Marion County can utilize the Indianapolis HHW drop-off sites .
Household Products Containing Hazardous Substances
Many common household products have hazardous properties. Look for the words Danger, Warning or Caution on the product label. They are used in cleaning, home improvement projects, automobile maintenance, lawn and garden care, and a variety of other tasks. In order to protect our health and the environment, we must know how to properly use, store and dispose of these products.
Mercury Containing Products
Mercury is a naturally occurring element. It is a metal and conducts electricity. Liquid at room temperature, it combines easily with other metals and expands and contracts evenly with temperature changes. Because of these properties, mercury has been used in many household, medical and industrial products. Improper mercury disposal includes pouring it down drains, putting it in the trash and burning it in barrels and incinerators.
Gasoline is one of the most dangerous substances found around the home. It is highly flammable and extremely toxic. Never pour gasoline down the drain, on the ground, or in the trash. Improper disposal of gasoline is a health and safety hazard, and threatens the environment. As gasoline ages, it tends to lose some of its desired ignition properties. Old gasoline used at full strength may account for sluggish behavior or temporary failure of an engine. Gasoline stored for long periods may become contaminated with dust particles, dirt, or water. It may also undergo a minor chemical change becoming "gummed up" or forming "varnish." Unusable gasoline should be taken to a household hazardous waste collection program for proper disposal.
Used Motor Oil, Antifreeze and Oil Filters
Used motor oil, antifreeze and oil filters can be recycled. Many oil change or automotive service centers will accept used motor oil for recycling. Recycling used motor oil, oil filters and antifreeze helps protect the environment. Household hazardous waste collection programs and recycling collection sites also accept used oil, oil filters and antifreeze from the public. For disposal information for your area, contact your local solid waste management district or community program.
Spent lead acid (automotive) batteries can be returned to sellers. In Indiana, dealers are required to take old batteries when new ones are purchased. Spent lead acid batteries may not be discarded in landfills. However, they are frequently generated by households and are also frequently included in HHW collection programs.
Electronics Recycling, Computer and Television Monitors
Electronic discards includes computers, monitors, televisions, audio equipment, printers, and other home electronic devices. Electronic equipment contains metals that, if not properly managed or contained, can become hazardous wastes. Cadmium - The largest source of cadmium in municipal waste is rechargeable nickel-cadmium (NiCd) batteries. Lead - Monitors and televisions contain a picture tube known as a cathode ray tube (CRT). The CRTs contain leaded glass, and are the largest source of lead in municipal waste. Mercury - Some electronic equipment also contains recoverable quantities of mercury.
Old Paint, Stains and Varnish
Paint and paint-related products can be harmful to the environment if they are disposed of improperly. Paint products should never be poured down the drain or put in the trash, unless the paint is completely dry. Good useable paint should be used up, given to theater or community groups or recycled though a paint exchange program. Check with your local HHW Program to find out if there is a paint exchange program in your area, or for other disposal options. If there is not a reuse or disposal program in your area, simply letting the paint to dry out will allow the paint to be disposed of with your regular garbage. This can be sped up with the addition of a cheap clay cat liter or other bulking agent.
Pesticides are chemicals used to prevent, destroy, or repel pests. Pests can be insects, mice and other animals, weeds, fungi, or microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. Some examples of pests are termites causing damage to our homes, dandelions in the lawn, and fleas on our dogs and cats. Pesticides also are used to kill organisms that can cause diseases. Most pesticides contain chemicals that can be harmful to people, animals, or the environment. Use of pesticides should be kept to a minimum. Left over pesticides should be used up or taken to a HHW Program for proper disposal. Use Integrated Pest Management to reduce/eliminate pesticide use.
- What makes a household product hazardous?
- Laws, regulations, and policies that affect household hazardous waste
- Managing household hazardous waste
- Safe storage and use of hazardous household products
- IDEM Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) Fact Sheet (available on the IDEM Fact Sheets page)
- Stop! Think Before Pouring Anything Down the Sink [PDF]
- The Indiana Household Hazardous Waste Task Force promotes cooperative efforts among public and private entities, emphasizing a regional approach to education and the proper handling and disposal of environmentally harmful materials.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Household Hazardous Waste page covers safe management of HHW, reducing HHW in your home, and regulatory exclusions for HHW.
- Unwanted Medicines: Proper Disposal (IDEM)
- Where to Recycle (IDEM)
For assistance with HHW issues, please contact IDEM’s Office of Program Support.