Household Hazards

As we end the winter season and begin to look forward to warmer weather of spring many of us are planning household projects and spring cleaning. As we complete these projects there is the question of how to dispose of many of the leftover cleaners and paints.

Improper disposal of household hazardous wastes can include pouring them down the drain, on the ground or into the street, or in some cases putting them out with the trash. The dangers of such disposal methods may not be immediately obvious but can pollute the environment and endanger our water supply.

So what options do you have to dispose of this household hazardous waste?

The first consideration for reducing the amount of household hazardous waste is to consider reducing the amount of waste we purchase or produce. When purchasing cleaning materials and other chemicals consider eco-friendly products and products that have multiple uses.

Secondly let’s ensure we are utilizing the chemicals for their intended purpose. Much research has gone into the safe use of household chemicals and while we may have the best of intentions when we use or mix a “special concoction” for that tough project, this is a recipe for disaster. Although these may not be industrial strength, inappropriate mixing of even a small amount of the wrong chemicals can be extremely dangerous to you and your family.

If you have left over paints or chemicals after your project and need to dispose of them there are a couple of references available to assist you.

You may always contact the fire department for technical assistance on how to properly dispose of household chemicals or you may contact the county landfill to determine if they are able to receive your hazardous waste.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is also an excellent reference for disposal guidelines. This information is available at

What do I do if I have a chemical spill in my house or garage? As talked about earlier, household chemicals can be dangerous to you, the environment and the water supply so if you have a spill in your residence and there is any doubt of danger to your family or the environment do not hesitate to call 911 so the fire department can respond and assess the situation.

The last question to be answered is will I receive a bill if I call 911 for a hazardous chemical spill or investigation? The simple answer is no. Colorado statute allows local emergency response agencies to invoice a business or individual for the response to a hazardous materials incident that occurs outside of a residence or through illegal activity to recoup any expenses incurred. The policy of the City of Salida Fire Department is to attempt to recoup any expenses incurred for an incident that occurs on a roadway, involves a waterway or is upstream of the gas supply to a residence. Hazardous materials response to your residence is one of many services provided to you and your family as part of the fire department mission.

Have a safe winter and please dispose of those household chemicals in a fashion that is safe to each of us and the environment.