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household Hazardous waste - purchasing

What is Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)

Household hazardous waste (HHW) is any waste generated from the use of a product containing a hazardous material that, if misused or improperly disposed of, could pose a threat to human health or the environment. These threats vary according to specific properties of the product. To identify potentially hazardous products, look for words on the product label such as poison, danger, warning, caution, or flammable. Most household hazardous wastes are generated from one of the following categories:

  • Automotive Products: oil, antifreeze, gasoline, brake and transmission fluid
  • Household Cleaners: oven cleaners, drain cleaners, disinfectants, laundry products
  • Paints and Solvents: latex and oil base paint, thinners, varnishes, wood preservatives
  • Poisons/Pesticides: fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and rodenticides

Some materials may exhibit more than one chemical hazard; for example, they might be flammable and toxic or corrosive and combustible.

Safer Alternatives to Hazardous Materials

Many household products contain hazardous chemicals that impact our health and the environment in three ways: (1) when they are manufactured, (2) when they are used, and (3) when they are thrown away. Greater awareness and concern with these issues has lead to people use Safer Alternatives in their homes and gardens. 

Read the Label
Before purchasing a product, read the label to get an indication of its safety (see How to Read A Non-Pesticide Label and How to Read A Pesticide Label). 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. For a list of non-hazardous or less hazardous alternatives call Clark County Environmental Services at (360) 397-2121 ext. 4352 or go to Alternatives to Hazardous Products.


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 storage, use or disposal before purchasing.


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