Stored paint cans: Chandler wonders if they’re the elephant in your garage

Senior Environmental Specialist Pat Johnson retrieves paint dropped off at Chandler’s Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility. (Photo courtesy city of Chandler)

You know that half-empty can of paint and the used automotive fluids taking up room in your garage? There’s a safe way to dispose of them and it doesn’t include dropping them into your trash bin.

Last year, Chandler residents safely disposed of 79 tons of hazardous waste—enough to equal the weight of 13 elephants.

All that trash represented a five percent increase from the prior year and included latex paint, oil, antifreeze, and batteries.

Chandler residents can schedule appointments in advance for hazardous household waste by calling 480-782-3510. The facility is located at the city’s Recycling-Solid Waste Collection Center, 955 E. Queen Creek Road.

The service is provided free for Chandler residents who pay for city-provided solid waste services. Once residents arrive at the facility, trained staff remove the items from the vehicle. Motor oil, brake fluid and antifreeze are sold to a local vendor; cooking oil is donated to make bio-fuel; paint is offered to city community cleanup projects and charities; and rechargeable batteries are recycled.

Fluorescent and CFL tubes are placed in an apparatus that removes mercury vapor and crushes the glass, which reduces containers and disposal costs. Contents of propane tanks and aerosol cans are emptied, and the metal containers recycled.

These and other precautions are in place because improper disposal of hazardous waste can pollute the environment and pose a threat to human health. Improper disposal can include pouring materials down the drain, onto the ground, into storm sewers, or, in some cases, putting them out with the regular trash.

The dangers of such disposal methods might not be immediately obvious, but in the case of tossing materials in alleys, streets or storm drains, the risk to human health and the environment can be significant.

Monsoon rains this time of year means a lot of storm water is entering the city’s storm drain system from alleys, driveways, streets and parking lots. Unlike the water from sinks, showers and toilets, storm water flows untreated into storm drains that lead to nearby retention basins, greenbelts, parks, golf courses, washes and community lakes.

This runoff can contain the household hazardous waste people improperly discard, including pesticides, fertilizers, petroleum products, automotive fluids, paints, solvents and chemicals. Having a place where residents can bring such materials is important.

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