Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Storage and Disposal of Household Pesticides

A lot of the lawn and garden care activities for the year are winding down, and homeowners who are looking at one or more containers, each with a little bit of leftover pesticide, may be wondering what to do over the winter with those containers and their contents.

In Cobb County, there currently are no scheduled drop-off days for household hazardous waste, which means homeowners will need to take extra care in storing and/or disposing of any pesticides for which there is no immediate need.

The UGA publication Pesticide Safety for the Homeowner explains, "chemical pesticides cannot be stored in the same way as other household items. Follow these precautions:
  • Do not store pesticides near food, seed, animals or flammable materials.
  • Store pesticides in a locked place out of reach of children, unauthorized people and pets. Keep the area dry, cool, ventilated and out of direct sunlight.
  • Store the pesticide in its original container. If you must transfer it to a different container, be sure to transfer the label also. Never store pesticide in an old food or drink container, because someone may mistake it for something edible.
  • Check containers often for leaks.
  • Keep the storage area clean and well organized.
  • Have spill kits and first aid kits readily available in case of an accident.
  • Do not store pesticides for more than two years; many break down after this time."
For any leftover chemicals, the publication recommends that they be used, either by the original owner or by someone to whom it has been given, traded, or sold. If a product cannot be used, the recommendation is to "Wrap the container in several layers of newspaper and put it in the household trash (if not prohibited by the label directions)."

The publication also has recommnedations for the emptied containers: "Empty pesticide containers are considered hazardous waste unless they are properly processed. Follow these guidelines:
  • Rinse each container at least three times, add the rinse to your spray tank, and apply the mix to a labeled site.
  • Punch holes in metal, plastic or cardboard containers, crush them, wrap them in newspaper and put them in the household trash (if not prohibited by the label directions)."
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs offers additional information to Georgia residents for disposing of household hazardous wastes. In an untitled document on its website, the Georgia DCA explains that any liquid wastes should be either left outside with the lid off to evaporate (when possible) or made into a solid by adding an absorbent substance like kitty litter to the container before wrapping the container in newspaper and adding it to the household trash.

The DCA also offers a couple of observations to those who are trying to address the problem of their household hazardous waste as responsibly as possible:

1. "The often frustrating reality is that in Georgia at this time, reuse and recycling options are extremely limited."

and 2. "One lesson should be apparent: the next time you have to buy this sort of material, consider how much you really need for the job, and explore less-toxic alternatives."