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Household Hazardous Waste     

General Information:

Product-Specific Information:

Click below to access information on specific HHW products: Go to Products Page

What is Household Hazardous Waste?

Household Hazardous Waste is common household products that exhibit the characteristics of hazardous waste. As a result, these products may be harmful to human health and/or the environment. Many of these products are very common and are usually purchased from local hardware, automotive, and grocery stores. These products can be used and found in our houses, in our garages, on our lawns, and in our gardens.

Because these products are so common and easy to purchase, many people forget that these products can be extremely harmful to their health or the environment. For example, common household products like toilet bowl and oven cleaners can potentially cause burns, blindness, nausea, and shortness of breath.

Automotive products such as gasoline, oil, and antifreeze can be extremely harmful to the environment. According to the EPA, just one gallon of used oil can pollute one million gallons of drinking water. Used oil that ends up in Vermont’s waterways can threaten aquatic life. Antifreeze can be extremely toxic to children and pets, potentially causing liver and brain damage, and cardiac failure.

Lawn and garden products such as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers can be washed off lawns and gardens by the rain, and ultimately end up in water supplies and surface waters. These products can kill fish, non-target insects, and can bioaccumulate in the environment causing harm to animals. One infamous example is the pesticide DDT causing major health problems in birds of prey.

How Do I Know If a Product is Hazardous?

Products that contain potentially harmful ingredients are required to provide a label that informs you why the product is hazardous, the harm it could cause to humans, ways to avoid exposure, and the necessary first aid procedures in the event of an accidental exposure.

Reading the label thoroughly and closely following the instructions for use may prevent an exposure situation. The label will provide information on choosing safety gear for the application. It will also provide instructions on choosing the best conditions for use. Included on this label will be a combination of a product's hazardous characteristics and key signal words to alert the user of potential dangers.


Hazardous Characteristics

Products or materials that are considered hazardous are likely to be: toxic, corrosive, reactive, explosive, and/or flammable/ignitable.

Toxic means that it is potentially poisonous if eaten, breathed, or absorbed through the skin. Examples include pesticides and antifreeze.

Corrosive means that it can burn or destroy other materials including living tissue. Examples include toilet bowl cleaner and Photographic fixer solution.

Reactive means that it can react with other substances to create fumes, heat, or explosion. Some examples include fertilizers and pool chemicals.

Explosive means that it can explode with exposure to heat or pressure. Some examples include pressurized propane cylinders and old ammunition.

Flammable/Ignitable means that it can be easily set on fire or has a low flashpoint. Some examples are old gasoline and nail polish remover.

Key Signal Words

In addition to hazardous characteristics, labels will contain signal words. These signal words range in scale from the most harmful (danger) to the least harmful (warning). The signal words are used to alert consumers of the hazard level of each product. By using this information, consumers can purchase the least hazardous product. Below is a description of these signal words, and the lethal dose for each according to the EPA.

Danger/poison is the highest degree of the signal words. Some are considered very dangerous because their lethal dose is only a few drops to one teaspoon.

Caution is not as harmful as dangerous but a lethal dose is one teaspoon to one ounce.

Warning is the least harmful but still has potential to cause harm. A lethal dose is one ounce to 2 cups.

Things to Remember:

- Read the label first. All household hazardous products will have a label that will identify any of the potential hazards, and will give proper storage and disposal instructions. In addition, the following important information will appear on every label:

        • How to use a product safely and effectively
        • How to store the product safely
        • First aid instructions
        • Phone numbers to call for help or more information

- Household hazardous products are dangerous even though they can be purchased at most stores.

- Improper use, storage, or disposal could have detrimental effects on your health and the environment.

- Whenever possible buy alternative non-toxic products, which are safer, effective, affordable, and readily available.

How to Handle Hazardous Waste in Your Home

  • Read labels carefully before you make purchases so you can reduce the amount of hazardous material that you bring into your home.
  • Choose non-toxic alternatives when possible. Select the least toxic products available and buy only the amount you need to use.
  • Store all toxic products away from children and animals in safe, tight containers. Make sure they won't leak.
  • Store away from extreme temperatures.
  • Follow label directions and use only what is needed.
  • NEVER mix products. Mixing products can cause explosive or poisonous chemical reactions.
  • Always store products in their original container with the original label.
  • Never eat, drink, or smoke when handling hazardous materials. Clean up properly after use.

How to Transport Household Hazardous Waste to HHW Collection Events & Locations

NEVER mix products. Mixing products can cause explosive or poisonous chemical reactions.

  • Keep products in their original container with the original label.
  • Secure products so they won't tip or leak.
  • Keep products away from children and animals.
  • Store products in the back end of the car, away from the passenger compartment.
  • Stay in your vehicle during unloading.

Resources for Businesses with Hazardous Waste

Hazardous Waste Management Program - Department of Environmental Conservation

VT Conditionally Exempt Generator (CEG) Online Course - Environmental Assistance Office

Contact your local solid waste management entity


Where to take HHW

Towns and solid waste districts hold hazardous waste collection events every year, two per year at minimum (spring and fall) and many common household hazardous wastes can be disposed of at these events. For more information and event scheduling, contact your solid waste district. Find contact information on the solid waste district contact list page. (Note: If you live in a village, fire district, etc., please select the town your village, fire district, etc. is in from the list. If your town is not a member of a district, contact information for your town clerk is provided.)

Solid Waste Management Districts contact list


HHW Collected in Vermont

Solid waste management entities report the quantity of HHW collected at collection events, permanent facilities, and through rovers to DEC. 

Data from previous years are available below:


Please note the new contact information:


Mia Roethlein


Waste Management & Prevention Division, Solid Waste Program

Department of Environmental Conservation

1 National Life Drive, Davis 1, Montpelier, VT 05620-3704




Last updated:
VT DEC Waste Management & Prevention Division 1 National Life Drive - Davis 1  Montpelier, VT  05620-3704  Tele: 802-828-1138  Fax: 802-828-1011

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