Guest contributor Jenny Holt cautions against the environmental hazards of improperly disposing certain common household products.
Lots of people think that they have an environmentally friendly lifestyle, but they don’t realize that they regularly release toxic chemicals into the environment. The Midwest continues to grow more environmentally concerned, exemplified by the city of Urbana recently starting a chemical free lawn program, but we have a way to go – especially while people still dispose dangerous chemicals down their drains.
The U.S. Geological Survey surveyed streams in 30 states, and detected harmful chemicals in 80% of the streams tested. These chemicals can harm wildlife, humans and the environment, so we should avoid dumping them in the drain at all costs.
Sadly, the cold weather discourages people from leaving their homes to safely dispose these items.
If you wish to protect the earth this winter, here are three things you shouldn’t put down your drain.
Pesticides are toxic chemicals that harm living creatures and have been linked to various health hazards such as ADHD, asthma and cancer. In the winter, we tend to use more of these products as rats and other pests seek warmth inside your house. For any of these products, make sure that you dispose of them properly.
Lots of people throw buckets of leftover paint away in the winter as the freezing temperatures can ruin the paint, but paint shouldn’t be put down the drain. Paint contains a type of pesticide called a biocide that is toxic to wildlife. For paint, you’ll want to use it all up yourself or by giving it to someone else. You could also donate it to a charity.
3. Household cleaning products
Lots of household cleaning products contain corrosive, flammable products that harm both humans and wildlife. Disposing these products down the drain could contaminate the local water. If you are not sure whether or not something can go down the drain, ask yourself “Is it biodegradable?” If not, steer away from the drain as the product could damage the pipes, the environment, or even other humans. Next time, make sure to safely dispose of any harsh chemicals in your home.