Department of Public Works
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Dangers of Improper Disposal
Schedule Your guide to household hazardous waste

When used, stored and disposed per label directions, most household products like cleaners, beauty products, medicines, auto fluids, paint and lawn care products pose little hazard to people or to the environment. However, these products may become dangerous and hazardous when used, stored or disposed of carelessly.

When thrown in with the regular trash, household hazardous waste can injure sanitation workers. In addition, the hazardous waste may end up in landfills not intended or permitted for those type of wastes which could in turn impact groundwater. When poured on the ground, household hazardous waste may seep into and contaminate our groundwater or the ocean we swim in.

When flushed down a toilet, sink or drain, household hazardous waste goes through the sewage system to treatment plants not equipped to handle hazardous waste. At treatment plants, hazardous waste interferes with the biological treatment process by killing bacteria and contaminating the effluent that runs into the ocean and the biosolids which cannot then be reused as fertilizer.

When hazardous waste is thrown on the street, it goes down storm drains leading into our area waterways, impacting the Pacific Ocean, our lakes, and our local beaches. Improper use, storage and disposal of household hazardous products can potentially harm our families, children, and pets, pollute our neighborhoods and contaminate our ground, water and air.

To report illegal dumping, call 1(888)CLEAN LA

Improper disposal includes throwing in the trash; flushing down the toilet, sink or drain; or pouring on the ground, in the gutter or storm drain. Illegal dumping carries a minimum fine of $5,000 per day up to $100,000 per day per violation and imprisonment (Section 25189.5 Health & Safety Code).

drugs picture Click here for the proper disposal
of unused medication.

Poisoning Prevention Tips:

  • Keep all hazardous products in their original containers and out-of-reach of children. Medicines should have child-resistant caps.

  • Install child safety latches on all drawers or cabinets containing harmful products.

  • Store harmful products away from food.

  • Keep original labels on containers, read and follow directions carefully.

  • Keep Poison Control Center number on your telephone.
  • Managed by the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, Environmental Programs Division
    Toll Free Phone Number: 1(888) CLEAN LA
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