Out With the Old!
We may think of spring as the time for cleaning, but right now is the time to find some chemical resistant gloves and start looking through the place where you store your chemicals. The annual household hazardous waste and pesticide disposal day is quickly approaching here in Lee County. This year’s event will again be held at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center, and will take place from 10:00 AM through 1:00 PM on Saturday, October 22, 2016.
What is the household hazardous waste and pesticide disposal day? Well, it is your chance to throw out any unwanted hazardous chemicals or pesticide with no questions asked and be sure that they will be disposed of properly. So if you still have a bag of DDT in your basement or garage which has been there since the 1950’s, bring it out, carefully, and get rid of it!
You may have items that you have never considered hazardous and previously just tossed in the trash. For example, did you know that batteries are considered hazardous waste? Batteries vary by manufacturer and type, but can contain lead, cadmium, mercury, and lithium. When thrown in the household trash, these potentially toxic elements will end up in a landfill, where they can leach into the soil, and eventually into our drinking water. Good thing they are one of the items accepted at the household hazardous waste day where they will be disposed of properly.
This is the opportunity to get rid of any unwanted pesticides. There are many reasons you may want to get rid of a pesticide, so now is the time to look through the inventory and see what you have. Many pesticides degrade with time, and become ineffective, so check for old pesticides and throw out ones which you no longer use, or have a use for. If stored improperly, pesticides can separate and break down. Many cannot tolerate freezing temperatures, so if your storage facility is not heated, there is a good chance that pesticide needs to be thrown away. Check the label on pesticides you are unsure of. The label will have a manufacturing date, as well as information about how it should properly be stored. If you cannot read the label due to small print to find storage information, check online, as most labels are printed there as well, or give me a call. If you cannot read the label because it is old, faded, and worn, that is a good indication it is time to throw that chemical out. Remember, pesticides include all herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides. Even fire ant bait is a pesticide, and a great example of one that goes bad easily, as baits are usually made from fats, which can go rancid, just like the oils in your kitchen. All pesticides are accepted for disposal, whether from the farm or from households, and accepted no questions asked.
Pesticides and batteries aren’t the only thing to throw out at this event. Accepted items include: paint and paint thinners, motor oil, gasoline, furniture strippers, household cleaners and degreasers, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, brake fluid, antifreeze, transmission fluid, solvents, and more. This is a popular event every year, which seems to keep growing with record amounts of chemicals and waste collected in recent years. This event is hosted by Lee County general services and held in cooperation with North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and North Carolina Cooperative Extension. If you have questions about this year’s household hazardous waste and pesticide disposal day, please contact Lee County Solid Waste at 919-718-4622 or North Carolina Cooperative Extension at 919-775-5624.
Zack Taylor is the Agriculture Agent – Field Crops and Livestock, and pesticide coordinator for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.