Is There Electronic Waste in Your Home?

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When most people think of hazardous waste, they think of runoff from huge manufacturing plants that use chemicals in the creation of their products. The truth is, however, that there are many types of hazardous waste in our homes. While cleaning chemicals are usually formulated to be safe to go down the drain (with some notable exceptions), the electronics that most people have in their homes can often be classified as hazardous waste, meaning that these electronics should not go in the trash. Most counties have a hazardous waste facility where you can drop off your electronics.

But how do you know what you can safely put in the trash and what needs to go to a specific facility for disposal? Here are some of the most common types of electronic waste:

• Televisions of all kinds, including flat screens, plasmas, and tubes

• Computers of all kinds and their monitors, mice, keyboards and accessories

• Cellphones, telephones, and their answering machines

• Stereo equipment

• Tape players

• VCRS, Blu-ray players, DVD players, CD players, and phonographs

• Microwaves

• Thermostats (most thermostats use mercury to gauge temperature)

• Fluorescent lights

• Digital clocks

• MP3 players of all kinds

• Cameras of all kinds

• Anything that contains a cathode ray tube

There are, however, some electronics that can go to your average transfer station, including:

• Vacuum cleaners

• Motors

• Fans

• Lamps and similar light fixtures

• Toasters

• Ovens

• Garbage disposals

• Curling irons and hair dryers

• And most appliances

Many people put things in the trash, not realizing that they are actually electronic waste and should be handled by the appropriate hazardous waste facilities. Following these guidelines will prevent dangerous chemicals and materials from entering landfills, where they can affect local groundwater. While throwing away one digital clock might not seem like that big of a deal, a high enough concentration of these electronics in landfills can become very dangerous.

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