Lurking under your sink, in the garage, in the basement - hazardous products are common in most homes. The typical home in the United States has three to eight gallons of hazardous materials, like cleaners, solvents paints, lawn and garden chemicals, car care products and even mercury fever thermometers.

But residents of Clatsop County can rid their homes of unwanted hazardous products for free. A Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 8 at the Port of Astoria's Pier 1.

At the collection site, residents can also trade mercury fever thermometers for a new digital thermometer for free. The exchange is limited to one free thermometer per household.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Clatsop County Solid Waste Advisory Team, City of Astoria 3R Committee, Western Oregon Waste and the Port of Astoria are sponsoring the event. This is the third collection event of this kind in the county; the most recent was seven years ago.

"Many people are unaware of the hazardous products in their homes or the harm that these products can cause to their families, pets and environment," said Susan Schroeder, chairwoman of the county Solid Waste Advisory Team. "This event is a wonderful opportunity to clean our homes of unwanted or unused dangerous substances."

Check labels for words like "flammable," "corrosive," "poison," "caution" and "danger." Typical household hazardous products include paints and solvents, including strippers and thinners; vehicle fluids such as motor oil, brake and transmission fluid and antifreeze; pesticides; household cleaners and polishes; and other items like batteries, art supplies, pharmaceuticals and some cosmetics, according to the DEQ.

The average U.S. home disposes of 15 pounds of household hazardous products each year. A study by the DEQ found that 80 percent of those products are dumped in landfills.

Accepted ItemsResidents can dispose of the following products at Pier 1 May 8:

paint

household cleaners

solvents

aerosol cans

lawn and garden chemicals

car care products

fluorescent tubes

pool chemicals

arts and craft products

asbestos

sharps

electronics

cell phones

computers

and just about any other household hazardous waste

Toxic products dumped in a yard or landfill can leach into the soil and pollute groundwater and streams, harming wildlife and contaminating drinking water. Some products can ignite in garbage cans or in collection trucks. Products flushed down toilets or poured down drains can contaminate septic tanks, sand filtration systems and municipal sewers. Toxic fumes can collect in sink traps. Products poured down street drains may run into streams and rivers without being treated.

At the free collection event, residents can bring; paint, household cleaners, solvents, aerosol cans, lawn and garden chemicals, car care products, fluorescent tubes, pool chemicals, arts and craft products, asbestos, sharps, and just about any other household hazardous waste. Electronics, cell phones and computers will be accepted.

Do not bring radioactive waste or explosives, including smoke detectors, television sets and microwaves. Do not bring tires or appliances.

Leave products in original containers, if possible. Do not mix products. Pack items in cardboard boxes to keep from tipping over. Keep items in car trunk or truck bed - away from passengers - while transporting.

For more information about the household hazardous waste collection event, call Astoria Public Works Department at 338-5173.

Businesses that generate small amounts of hazardous waste can contact Alan Ranf at (360) 335-0368 to arrange for disposal for a fee.

Visit the DEQ Web site at (www.deq.state.or.us/wmc/solwaste/hhw/hhw.html) or call (800) 732-9253 for a list of alternatives to hazardous household products.

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