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Hazardous Waste!? In MY house!?!

If you're like most people, the answer is yes! You might be surprised to learn that many common household products can be hazardous! Take a tour of the Average American household to find out what kinds of hazardous wastes might be lurking in YOUR home!

To find out more about what kinds of household products are hazardous, and what the hazards are, check out our list of Common Hazardous Household Materials!

Characteristics of Household Hazardous Waste

Household Hazardous Waste is waste generated by individual residents that has any of the following hazardous properties:


Materials that cause immediate or long-term health problems for humans or wildlife. Examples of toxic products include pesticides and wood preservatives.


Materials that ignite easily in the presence of heat, sparks or flame. Examples of flammable materials include nail polish remover, paint remover, and kerosene.


Materials that eat away at, or corrode, metal surfaces and living tissues. The two types of corrosive materials are acidic (pH of 2 or less), and caustic (pH of 12.5 or more). Examples of corrosive materials include drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and acids.


Materials that are unstable or react violently with air, water, or other chemicals. These reactions can sometimes create hazardous conditions, such as explosions, or form toxic fumes. Example of reactive materials include pool chemicals and some types of fertilizers


How to Identify Hazardous Household Products

The easiest way to identify hazardous products is to look for clues on product labels. Manufacturers of hazardous products are required by law to include information about their products' hazards on the label. Hazardous products should be labeled with one of the following signal words:


These signal words provide clues about how hazardous a product is. Products labeled with the word DANGER are the most hazardous, while those labeled with CAUTION are least hazardous.

Product labels also provide information on the types of hazards presented by household products. For example:

A Product Label Says...

The Product Hazard Is...

"Harmful or Fatal If Swallowed"

Toxic if Ingested

"Use in a Well Ventilated Area"

Toxic Fumes

"Do Not Use Near Heat or Flame"


"May Irritate Skin or Eyes"


"Wear Protective Clothing"

Corrosive, or Toxic if Absorbed Through Skin