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You might be surprised to discover how many common products found in your home contain toxic or hazardous materials.

A product is hazardous if it is toxic, flammable, corrosive, reactive or explosive, and words such as POISON, DANGER, WARNING and CAUTION appear on the label. Care must be taken to properly use, store and dispose of hazardous products. Hazardous products carelessly tossed in the trash can injure sanitation workers, damage collection vehicles, or leak into the environment. Some products, when poured down the drain or on the ground, can damage plumbing or septic systems and pollute our water supply. Improper storage of these products is a safety hazard.

The best way to manage unwanted hazardous products is to use them up or give them away to someone who can. Since this is not always possible, county Solid Waste Management Districts offer household hazardous waste collection events to provide residents the opportunity to recycle oil-based paint, solvents, pesticides, automotive products, mercury and other household hazardous wastes for free. Events are held throughout the year. Check with the Solid Waste Management District in your county for more information.

Solid Waste Management Districts were created in 1988 following the passage of Ohio law. The law required districts to prepare and implement plans to reduce the amount of waste disposed in Ohio's landfills by increasing recycling and waste reduction activities statewide. Districts work to support environmentally-sustainable and economical solid waste management practices within the communities, institutions and businesses of their local counties.

There are some items that can be managed outside of a household hazardous waste collection event. Latex paint, which is comprised mostly of water, can safely be disposed of in the regular trash. Mix in cat litter or another absorbent material to dry up the liquid. The solid paint can go into your trash and out with your weekly rubbish collection. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), which contain mercury, can be recycled for free at many The Home Depot and Lowe's Home Improvement stores. Do-it-yourself mechanics can recycle motor oil for free at all Lube Stop locations and other oil-change shops.

Be a Conservation Crusader today. For more information about hazardous waste disposal in Cuyahoga County, visit www.cuyahogaswd.org. If you live outside of Cuyahoga County, see www.earth911.com

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