San Bernardino County Fire Department
Household Hazardous Waste Program
2824 East "W" Street, Bldg. 302
(San Bernardino International Airport)
San Bernardino, CA 92415-0799
1.800.OILY CAT (645.9228)
Household Chemical Safety and
Basic Safety Rules
- Know the hazards of the materials you're working with. Read the labels, know what
precautions, safety gear and clean up procedures are advised. Always follow label
directions exactly and use only the recommended amount.
- Use good ventilation at all times. Local exhaust is the best, such as a hood or
spray booth that vents to the outside. Next best is to use exhaust fans that pull
the contaminated air away from you and exhaust it outside (an air-conditioning system
is not adequate, since it recirculates most of the air). An open window usually
does not provide adequate ventilation; toxins may be blown back into your face.
Avoid breathing the vapors and use products in well ventilated and safe work areas.
- Use good hygiene and housekeeping. Separate work and living areas; avoid eating,
drinking or smoking in the work area; don't store chemicals in food containers;
and wash and change clothes after working. Wet mop or vacuum for cleanup of dusts.
Always wash hands and face thoroughly after using household chemicals and before
eating or drinking.
- Special precautions are needed for children's art. In general, children over the
age of 12 can understand and consistently follow safety instructions for the more
toxic materials; younger children cannot and should use only the safest materials
(Usually labeled "non-toxic").
- Never mix products together (for example, ammonia mixed with chlorine bleach can
form a poisonous gas).
- Store flammable, oxidizer and poisonous products each separately—do not store
incompatible products together (i.e., acids with caustics or alkalines; or flammables
If you spill a hazardous chemical on yourself: Immediately wash the area well with
water (do not use soap) and change clothes immediately. Wash clothes separately.
For Eyes: Immediately rinse injured eye with lukewarm water, with the good eye above
the injured eye and from the nose outward. Seek medical attention. Always call a
medical professional or the Drug and Poison Information Center for advice on poisoning
If you spill a chemical on the ground: Contain and cover the spill with an absorbent
material (kitty litter, clay garage sweep material), sweep and scoop absorbent and
container into a plastic bag, and take to a household hazardous waste collection
center. For questions regarding proper disposal, contact the Household Hazardous
Waste Program at (909) 382-5401 or 1-800-Oily Cat.
RECYCLE USED MOTOR OIL & FILTERS AND BUY RE-REFINED OIL
It saves natural resources.
Used Oil & Filters are 100% Recyclable!
Used Motor Oil
Any oil that has been refined from crude oil and has been used is "used oil."
The term "used oil" also applies to any oil that is no longer useful to
the original purchaser as a consequence of extended storage, spillage or contamination
with nonhazardous impurities such as dirt and water. Used oil is a hazardous waste.
The hazards associated with used oil result from the various additives used in its
manufacture and from the heavy metal contaminants picked up from use in the internal
Oil poured down household drains or directly onto the ground can reach lakes, rivers
and ground water. It can pollute the groundwater with contaminants such as lead,
magnesium, copper, zinc, chromium, arsenic, chlorides, cadmium and polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCBs). One quart of oil can pollute 250,000 gallons of drinking water.
Used oil is recyclable. Two and one half quarts of lubricating oil is gained by
re-refining one gallon of used oil. You can participate in oil recycling by draining
the used oil into a clean container with a tight fitting cap. Do not mix the recovered
oil with any other liquid and make sure the oil is free from dirt, leaves and other
debris. Many auto parts stores will accept your oil for recycling.
- Dumping used oil (or any chemical) is a crimelegally & environmentally.
- Dumped oil contaminates the ground waterour drinking water source.
- Used oil is insoluble and can contain toxic chemicals.
- Used oil kills plant and aquatic life.
- One pint of used oil can create an acre-sized oil slick on surface waters.
- Recycling used oil and oil filters is the answer.
- Do not dump oil on the ground, in the gutter or storm drain, or throw in the trash.
Do Not Mix anything with the oil (water, paint, pesticides, solvents, diesel, antifreeze,
gasoline). Click on www.1800cleanup.org,
for the nearest certified center to recycle oil and oil filters.
- Drain your oil from cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, recreational vehicles, lawnmowers,
etc. into a reusable, sealable container. Obtain a free oil container at
a nearby collection facility. Call 1-800-OILY-CAT for the nearest
Pesticides / Herbicides
Pesticides are chemicals designed to kill pests.
Herbicides are pesticides specifically intended to kill plants and micro-organisms.
They can injure or potentially kill people by inhalation, ingestion, and absorption
through the skin. Exposure can affect the respiratory and nervous systems, and cause
skin and organ damage. If improperly used, these chemicals also can injure or kill
plants or animals that were not intended to be controlled. Certain pesticides that
don't readily break down can also accumulate in the food chain.
Unless otherwise directed, don't water an area immediately after applying these
chemicals to it. This might cause them to run off with the extra water into a storm
drain or stream. Don't throw pesticides or herbicides in the trash, or pour them
on the ground or down a drain. Don't burn or bury them either. These methods of
disposal can pollute groundwater, lakes and rivers, or injure solid waste workers.
The best way to get rid of these chemicals is to use them up unless they are banned.
When mixing these chemicals, follow the directions on the label. Read the label
to determine if protective clothing such as wraparound goggles, gloves or a respirator
are needed. When finished, wash protective clothing in hot water, separate from
If you can't use the chemicals, ask if friends, neighbors, or family members need
them. Don't give away pesticides or herbicides that are banned (such as lindane,
chlordane, DDT), or that are in damaged or unlabeled containers.
After using all the pesticide or herbicide from a container, wash it three times
and use the rinse water as you would use the pesticide itself. Throw the rinsed-out
container in the trash. Don't burn or reuse old containers.
Safely store pesticides in their original container. Protect the label and make
sure the word "DANGER" appears on the container.
If the pesticide is flammable, keep it away from heat, flames and spark sources.
Also, store it where it won't freeze. Always store chemicals out of the reach of
Before purchasing a pesticide or herbicide, make sure you need one. Contact the
local agricultural extension service for information on when to use pesticides/herbicides.
If you need to use these chemicals, buy only the amount you need. Try using up leftover
pesticides/herbicides before purchasing more. Also, purchase ready-to-use
broad spectrum pesticides that will work on more than one pest to avoid having many
different pesticide containers in your home. By purchasing ready-to-use formulations
instead of concentrates, you can avoid mixing and handling strong poisons, avoid
potentially dangerous spills and avoid having 2 containers of the same product in
your home (one dilute and one concentrate).
Automobiles consume vast quantities of gasoline, motor oil, antifreeze, car batteries,
degreasing agents, windshield washing fluid, car waxes and cleaners. While most
of these products are necessary for proper operation and maintenance, they are all
Automobiles use lead-acid batteries. Lead-acid batteries contain lead and sulfuric
acid. The lead can contaminate water and the acid can burn skin. Each automotive
battery contains approximately 18 pounds of toxic metals and a gallon of corrosive
If lead-acid batteries are improperly disposed of, such as dumped in a non-hazardous
landfill or an empty field, the lead and sulfuric acid can seep into the ground,
contaminating the environment and ground-water supply. Damaged, leaking batteries
improperly disposed of in the regular trash also pose a danger to refuse collectors
who can come in direct contact with sulfuric acid. They are also a fire hazard.
Lead-acid batteries are recyclable. Many places that sell batteries will take back
the used battery as a core. Also some garages and scrap metal dealers will take
the battery. If you have a used battery at home, store it safely until you can take
it somewhere to recycle. For safe storage, keep the battery in a dry place inside
or a leak-proof container outside. Store batteries out of the reach of children
Nationwide, 70 percent of spent lead-acid batteries are recycled. After the lead
is separated from the non-metallic components of the battery, it then is smelted
to produce soft lead and lead alloys. Most of these lead products are used to make
new lead-acid batteries.
Antifreeze is made up mainly of water and ethylene glycol and added to the radiator
water in a car to lower the freezing point and raise the boiling point of radiator
fluid. In other words, it keeps the water from freezing on very cold days and boiling
over on hot days.
Auto maintenance experts recommend that radiators should be flushed every one to
two years. This presents a question of what to do with the radiator fluid. You have
to be careful not only to store new antifreeze safely, but also to dispose of used
Because ethylene glycol is a clear, colorless and sweet-tasting liquid, it is very
attractive to pets and small children. Pets will lap up an antifreeze puddle because
it tastes sweet. Young children are also at risk. If swallowed, ethylene glycol
may cause depression, followed by respiratory and cardiac failure, renal and brain
damage. It is often fatal.
Antifreeze that is carelessly disposed of, such as poured into a storm drain or
ditch, a river or stream, onto the ground or into the trash, presents a health threat
to humans, animals and the environment.
Used antifreeze can be recycled for use by the mining industry (sprayed on coal
to keep it from sticking together) and the glycol industry (used for airplane de-icing
solution). It also is used in cement grinding and brake fluid.
Gasoline is toxic and extremely flammable, and never should be used as a cleanser.
Always store gasoline in a cool, well-vented area away from electrical sources.
Gasoline should be kept only in an approved gasoline container.
Some chemicals in cleansers may be hazardous to your health during routine use even
though the exposure is small. You can reduce the risk to your health by avoiding
products containing toxic chemicals. Or, if you must use toxic chemicals, be sure
to follow the manufacturers' directions.
Organic solvents affect the central nervous system, liver and kidneys. Many are
flammable and a few are suspected carcinogens. Petroleum distillates in polishes
and sprays, perchloroethylene in spot removers, mineral spirits in paint thinner
and p-dichlorobenzene in moth balls are all examples of organic solvents.
Strong acids or bases are corrosive to skin, eyes and mucous membranes, and can
react with other household chemicals. Acids are found in tub, tile and toilet cleaners
and in rust removers. Lye in oven cleaners and hypochlorites in chlorine bleach
are examples of highly alkaline corrosive substances.
Phenols and alcohols are poisonous and flammable chemicals that represent the active
ingredients in most disinfectant products.
Although not highly toxic, synthetic detergents are the household chemicals most
frequently ingested by children. "Real" soaps made from animal fat or
vegetable oil may be less toxic.
Leftover unwanted paint is a hazardous waste. Chemicals used in the production of
paint can pose serious threats to human health and the environment if handled or
disposed of improperly.
If paint is thrown into the trash and ends up in a sanitary landfill, there is the
potential health hazard of the chemicals seeping into the groundwater and possibly
being consumed by animals or people.
In addition, since oil-based paint is flammable, refuse workers may be injured and
equipment may be damaged during trash collection. If you must use oil-based paint,
buy only the quantity needed. Measure the space you wish to paint and ask for help
from the retailer to purchase the appropriate amount.
If possible, use latex or water-based paint instead. Latex paint is easy to apply
and brushes, tools, and other equipment can be cleaned up with soap and water. Latex
paint is less harmful to the environment than oil-based paint, which contains more
Reuse or recycle leftover paint by giving it to someone who can use it, such as
a neighbor or friend, theater group, school or other community organization. Take
leftover oil-based and latex paint to a household hazardous waste collection facility
or event. Latex paint is recycled and non-profit organizations, residents,
and neighborhood cleanup groups can use this recycled paint. See bucket label (pdf) for basic
instructions. The reusable 5-gallon buckets are available for $6.00 and the
paint is free.