Reduce Toxic Chemicals

Written by I.R.C.. Posted in Solutions

Understanding Toxic Chemicals

Many pesticides, weed killers, solvents, paints, varnishes, wood preservatives, plastics and petrochemicals are toxic or have hazardous components. The variety of toxins is diverse; some are mildly toxic and others can be fatal in modest doses.  Some are carcinogenic (cancer causers), mutagenic (cause genetic mutations) and others are teratagenic (cause birth defects). The worst chemicals are characterized as PBT - persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic.  In simple English that means they last a long time, accumulate in fat tissues and are poisonous. The poster child for PBT chemicals are the organochloride pesticides and herbicides like DDT, Chlordane and the defoliant Agent Orange. These are now illegal to use in the United States but are still manufactured by American companies and sold overseas. These are so persistent that they and their chemical relatives are found in penguins in the Antarctic, far away from any application of the chemicals.


There are many insightful websites that provide information on toxic chemicals and products.  One popular site is maintained by Healthy Child Healthy World, who publishes a top ten list of toxic products that you should avoid and keep away from children especially.


Alternatives to Toxic Products

In the last decade or two, many less toxic alternatives have been developed and are now widely available. Many of these safer products are sold in home improvement stores or other retailers. One well known mail order company, Gardens Alive, has developed a successful business dealing exclusively in non-toxic or less toxic products for the home and garden.


Paint and Varnish

One of the most common inquiries to our office is related to disposal of paint. Latex paint is not nearly as toxic as its oil based cousin that was so common decades ago.  Latex can be safely dried out and the empty or near empty metal cans may then be placed in your recycling bin like any other metal can.  In the last few years more plastic cans have come on the market.  Unfortunately, those plastic ones cannot be recycled in our regular curbside collection.  The plastic paint cans will be accepted at the county's compost facility on Blacksnake Road at the top of the Buckhorn off Route 36.  They accept other untraditional plastics there. The Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania has a great series of fact sheets that includes one on how to deal with old paint. By the way, the ideal with paint is to find a use for it.  If you have any paint that is still in good shape, consider donating it to Habitat for Humanity or someone else that is in need of paint.



The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take Back Day which will take place on Saturday, April 28, 2012, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  This is a great opportunity for those who missed the previous events, or who have subsequently accumulated unwanted, unused prescription drugs, to safely dispose of those medications.


More Information and Local Opportunities

TheIRC sponsors a hazardous waste collection each summer. So please try to save those hazardous products and dispose of them properly at this annual event. A few materials are also accepted year round at the compost facility on Blacksnake Road in the village of Buckhorn off Route 36, such as used motor and cooking oil.  For more info call 814-942-7472.  

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For recycling info on the go, download the IRC My-Waste App!!

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