There are numbers of household wastes that have potential bringing hazards to our family members especially the ignorant kids. But most of us may not aware of their dangerous characteristics and improper storage or disposal of these hazardous household wastes can cause detrimental outcomes to us. Since I work in the chemical industry, I could share some of my knowledge so that we parents are more cautious with this household wastes.
In Malaysia, the Department of Environment has regulated some hazardous waste as scheduled wastes, due to their potential for reactivity, toxicity, corrosivity and ignitability and we can only dispose the wastes to licensed collector and recycler(see Schedule One of Environmental Quality (Scheduled Wastes) Regulations 2005). But this law is now only enforced at the industrial level, not household level.
Here are some of the hazardous household wastes which we commonly encountered:
1) Used fluorescent lamp –classified as hazardous waste mainly because it consists of mercury (Hg). So, it shouldn’t be thrown into trash, but to be recycled.
2) Used consumer electronics like television, computer, fax machine, handphone – classified as E wastes and are recycled to extract their valuable heavy metals like lead and cadmium. Normally the scrap collector would pay you about RM 50 for one unit of your old computer.
3) Battery waste– From our car battery to the normal battery we used, they contain hazardous heavy metals like lead, nickel and cadmium. When the battery cast corrodes, these heavy metals will leak out and pollute our water and land.
4) Toilet bowl cleaner – They are mostly acid which may cause irritation to your skin and eyes if in contact. So, be careful to keep it out of reach of children and its empty bottle as well.
5) Chlorine bleach – We normally use “Clorox” for bleaching of our white clothes. They normally contain diluted sodium hypochlorite. It is harmful for skin contact and inhalation. Be careful of its storage and its empty bottle disposal. Also remember not to mix chlorine bleach with toilet bowl cleaner because it will release chlorine gas which is very harmful.
6) Others like paints, inks, antifreeze(coolant), pesticides, herbicides, brake fluids are also hazardous in their chemical nature.
In Malaysia, a good household hazardous waste management system is yet to be implemented.