What is HHW?
Many common chemical products found in the home, garage, workshop,
and garden contain hazardous ingredients which need to be used,
stored and disposed of responsibly and safely. "Household
Hazardous Waste" (HHW) is that portion of a household product
which is no longer usable, leftover, or not wanted and has to
be disposed of. HHW can be described as discarded solid or liquid
materials or containers holding gases which may cause an adverse,
harmful or damaging biological effect in an organism or the
How can you tell if a product is hazardous?
A product is to be considered hazardous if it is flammable,
if it reacts or explodes when mixed with other substances, if
it is corrosive or if it is toxic. Some items like paint thinner
and car batteries are obviously hazardous, but many products
such as polishes, insecticides and glues are overlooked and
not commonly recognized as hazardous.
How does HHW affect your health?
Here is a sample list of a few items that most have around the
home and what negative effects they have on us and our environment:
Cleaners - emit
ammonia that you breathe. Ammonia is toxic, but many glass
containers do not carry a warning label.
- Aerosol Cans
- no longer contain CFCs, but do contain isobutene, propane
and butane. Studies have shown these chemicals to be toxic to
the heart and nervous system of animals. Aerosol cans may also
contain toxic solvents such as ethanol, isopropyl alcohol and
propylene glycol which are "volatile organic compounds"
that can contaminate ground and surface water as well as contribute
to global warming.
- Drain Cleaners
- contain lye, hydrochloric and sulphuric acids which can burn
human tissue and cause permanent damage. If not used according
to the directions, they can also explode.
- Toilet Bowl Cleaners
- contain chlorine and hydrochloric acid which can burn the
eyes and skin. Swallowing these products can be fatal. The fumes
can corrode metal, and fumes may even escape from closed containers.
- Home and Garden Pesticides
- can increase the risk of leukemia in children, according to
the National Cancer Institute. Many pesticides have been linked
to birth defects and cancer. Even though we use them outside,
rain washes pesticides and herbicides into the ground water
which may turn up in our drinking water.
- All-Purpose Cleaners
- contain ammonia or chlorine, which can irritate the lungs,
causing shortness of breath and coughing. Chlorine forms cancer-causing
compounds when released into the environment. When the two chemicals
are mixed, they form deadly chloramines gas.
Why bring items to a special HHW collection?
A: Bringing your HHW to a special collection is
the most responsible way to dispose of toxic household chemicals.
Whether it be a bottle of window cleaner or a bottle of mercury,
bringing the chemicals to the waste collection event will ensure
that they are properly handled and disposed of in a way that is
most conscientious towards our environment.
But really, how many of these chemicals are around my house?
A: The average household contains as much as 100
pounds of hazardous waste. Products are typically found in five
areas of the home: kitchens, bathrooms, garages, workshops and
How safe is the collection area with all of these chemicals around?
A: The site will be very safe. Only trained personnel
will collect and transport the items that you bring. In fact,
we ask that you remain in your vehicle while the staff removes
the items. Whether you realize it or not, handling HHW for any
period of time can have negative effects on our lives. During
the collection process, the only handling we ask that you do is
to load materials into your car to transport to the site.
How much does this
A: Although the cost of the event itself is upwards
of $30,000, the collected items will be charged at a rate of $3 per
gallon. Some items, such as mercury, are more expensive to process
and will carry a higher fee. The partnerships between the Cambria
County Solid Waste Authority, Southwestern PA HHW Task Force, and
the Pennsylvania Resources Council make this event available to the
public through grants and donations from public and private sources.
If I have more questions, who do I contact?
A: For more information on HHW, visit www.swpahhw.org.
For questions on the collections in Cambria County, see the CCSWA
contact information by clicking