Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program was developed and is maintained by Clark County Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt. Funding for this project provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology.

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Hazardous

  • Household Hazardous Waste

    Virtually every home contains products that are potentially hazardous if misused or disposed of improperly. Common hazardous products include pesticides, paints, solvents, batteries, thinners, motor oil, antifreeze, and household cleaners. It’s important to know how to handle, store, and purchase these materials to protect the safety and well-being of your family, community and the environment. You should never pour hazardous wastes down the drain, into the stormdrain, or place it in the garbage.

     

    Related articles: Unwanted Medication Disposal | Hazardous Waste Assessment

  • Pesticide labels

    How To Read a Pesticide Label

    The labeling of pesticides is more complicated than most other chemical products. This is necessary because many pesticides are more toxic than other chemicals found around the home. Warnings, use specifications, and directions must be much more complete and detailed.

    You can tell the toxicity of a pesticide by looking at the signal word on the label. Pesticides are classified into Toxicity Categories I – IV (Category I is the most toxic, IV the least toxic). The signal words and the precautionary statements required on the label are different for each category. The following Toxicity Rating Scale indicates the requirements for pesticide labels.

    Signal Words on Pesticides

    Category If the label has this signal word... This is how toxic the product is (approximate amount needed kill an average person).

    • Highly Toxic DANGER, POISON – A few drops to one teaspoon
    • Moderately Toxic WARNING – One teaspoon to one ounce
    • Slightly Toxic CAUTION – Over one ounce
    • Not Toxic – Not Required
    If a product label does not provide ingredients or adequate instructions on how to safely use the product, then you should consider buying a product that does list this basic information. You can also contact the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer and request a copy of the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for that product. An MSDS lists the ingredients in a hazardous product, its manufacturer, its hazards to safety and health, and precautions to follow when using it.
  • Use it safely

    Safety guidelines

    • Follow the directions on the label.
    • Use proper safety equipment.
    • Have a working fire extinguisher available.
    • Wear protective clothing as necessary.
    • Post emergency numbers near your telephone.
    • Leave products in their original container with labels intact and visible.
    • Do not mix products unless directed to do so by the label’s directions.
    • Use only what is needed. Using twice as much product does not mean twice the desired results.
    • If pregnant, avoid any potential exposure to toxic chemicals. Many toxic products have not been tested for their effects on unborn children.
    • Avoid wearing soft contact lenses. They can absorb product vapors and damage your eyes.
    • Use products in well-ventilated areas. Work outdoors whenever possible. If working indoors, open windows and use an exhaust fan to blow the air outside rather than re-circulating it indoors. If you feel dizzy or nauseous, take a break and go outside.
    • Do not eat, drink, or smoke while using hazardous products. Traces of hazardous chemicals can be carried from hand to mouth. Smoking can also start a fire if the product is flammable.
    • Clean up after using hazardous products.
    • Seal products and refasten all childproof caps.
    • Do not leave hazardous products unattended.

    Chemical Exposure

    The effects of chemicals on human health and the environment depend on the dose, concentration, duration and frequency, and route of exposure. People have different reactions to chemicals, some reacting to small doses and concentrations, while others require a larger dose or concentration to react.

    Hazardous materials may enter the body through:

    • Ingestion: To prevent accidental ingestion of a hazardous material, avoid putting anything in your mouth while working with hazardous materials. Always keep food, drinks, or other items that could come into contact with your mouth (e.g., cigarettes) away from the work area to avoid contamination. Always wash your hands before handling food or touching your face or eyes. Never place hazardous materials in food or beverage containers.
    • Inhalation: To ensure adequate ventilation, work outside whenever possible. If you must work inside, use a fan to direct air away from the work area and towards an open window. Always ensure that you have adequate ventilation. If you can smell the hazardous material you are working with, you might need to use a mask or respirator for adequate protection. Be aware that not all hazardous chemicals have an odor (e.g., carbon monoxide, methyl alcohol).
    • Absorption: Hazardous material can enter your body from contact with your skin or other exposed body surfaces. Avoid splashing and wear protective clothing to protect yourself.

    Preventing Accidents

    There are two approaches to eliminating accidents:

    • Eliminate unsafe conditions. Work areas and equipment should be examined to determine if any unsafe conditions (e.g., frayed electrical wires, improper ventilation or lighting, leaking containers of hazardous material) exist. Any unsafe condition should be corrected before beginning work in the area.
    • Reduce unsafe acts. Working in a safe environment requires you to examine those actions you control while being aware of those situations beyond your control. Care must be taken to ensure that any actions taken to protect or reduce accidents in one area do not cause or set up the conditions for accidents in some other area.

    Protect Yourself with the Proper Equipment

    • Clothing: To avoid direct contact of chemicals with your skin, choose clothing that both covers bare skin and provides a barrier for protection against contact.
    • Ear protection: Ear plugs or ear muffs to protect your ears from high volume noise.
    • Eye Protection: Select goggles or safety glasses to prevent liquids or fumes from getting into your eyes.
    • Foot: Boots made of PVC or heavy rubber will protect again chemical spills.
    • Hand: Gloves made of the proper material to protect against the type of chemical you are using. Consult a salesperson at your local hardware store.
    • Respiratory: Wearing a face mask or using a respirator can help prevent against inhaling fumes.

    Fire Hazards

    When working with hazardous products, always read and follow the directions on the label. Do not mix products unless instructed to do so by the directions on the label. To prevent fumes from escaping, keep all containers closed when working with the hazardous material.

    If the product is flammable and/or explosive, use and store away from any sources of heat, flames, sparks, or ignitions. Gas pilot lights, hot water tanks, lit cigarettes and cigars, light switches, and garage door openers can all be ignition sources. Fuel, oxygen, and heat are required for combustion to occur. If you remove any of these three elements a fire can be extinguished.

    Place all solvent covered rags in a sealed container after use and before cleaning. If you clean them yourself, wash the rags separately in a washing machine with a full water level of hot water and detergent. Rinse the washing machine thoroughly after cleaning the rags. Line dry the rags rather than using a dryer; the high heat of a dryer can ignite any flammable vapors remaining in the rags.

    Keep a working fire extinguisher readily available in your home and work area. Make sure the extinguisher you have is appropriate for the fire you are attempting to extinguish.

  • Store it safely

    Be aware of the hazards in your home or garage

    Always be aware of the type of hazard you are bringing into your home or garage. Some hazardous product containers are similar in appearance to food or beverage containers. Children who haven’t learned to read or adults that have problems with their vision may mistake a container with hazardous material for a food or beverage container.
    • Keep products out of the reach of children and animals, and away from food.
    • Clearly label all hazardous products before storing.
    • Never store hazardous products/wastes in food or beverage containers.
    • Make sure lids and caps are tightly sealed and childproof; never leave a container of hazardous material open and accessible to children or animals.
    • Keep containers dry to prevent corrosion.
    • Corroded containers should be placed in a labeled plastic bucket with a secure lid.
    • Store volatile chemicals in a well-ventilated area.
    • Store rags used with flammable products in a sealed and marked container.
    • Keep flammable or combustible products away from heat, flames, or other sources of ignition.
    • Store gasoline in approved containers, in ventilated areas, and away from ignition sources.
    • Know where flammable materials are stored and how to extinguish them.
  • What’s a hazardous product?

    How to identify hazardous products

    Hazardous products such as those mentioned above have the potential to harm people, pets, and wildlife. To identify potentially hazardous products, look for words on the product label such as poison, danger, warning, caution, or flammable. Hazardous products should be taken to special collection facilities for disposal. They should never be thrown in the trash because they can pose threats to public health and the environment. These threats vary according to specific properties of the product.

    Things To Consider When Purchasing Products

    • Before purchasing a product, read the label to get an indication of its properties. Be aware that the word “non-toxic” is an advertising word and has no federal regulatory definition.
    • Choose products with child resistant packaging.
    • Avoid aerosol products when possible. Aerosols disperse substances that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs and absorbed into the bloodstream.
    • Use non-hazardous or less-hazardous alternative products and recipes. One general household cleaner can serve many purposes; you do not need a different product for every cleaning problem.
    • If safer alternatives are not available, buy only the amount you will need. Make sure that you understand what hazards are associated with a product’s use or disposal.
    • Flammable: Can easily be set on fire or ignited.
    • Explosive/reactive: Can detonate or explode through exposure to heat, sudden shock, or pressure.
    • Corrosive/caustic: Can burn and destroy living tissues when brought in contact.
    • Toxic/poisonous: Capable of causing injury or death through ingestion, inhalation, or absorption. Some toxic substances are known to cause cancer, genetic damage, and fetal harm.
    • Radioactive: Can damage and destroy cells and chromosomal material. Radioactive substances are known to cause cancer, mutations, and fetal harm.
    Some materials may exhibit more than one chemical hazard; for example, they might be flammable and toxic or corrosive and combustible.

    Other Types of Household Hazardous Products

    • Medications: Pharmaceutical compounds (i.e., antibiotics, reproductive hormones, and other prescription and nonprescription drugs).
    • Sharps: Hypodermic needles, syringes with needles attached, intravenous (IV) tubing with needles attached, scalpel blades, and lancets.
    • E-waste: Electronic waste such as computers, televisions, monitors, and printers.
    • Fluorescent lights: It is important to properly recycle compact fluorescent lights (cfl) because they contain small amounts of mercury. There are multiple sites for proper disposal of fluorescent bulbs in Clark County. Visit Light Recycle to search for a drop-off location close to you. Clark Public Utilities will take up to six unwanted cfl bulbs and exchange them for one new LED bulb at their local offices.