A broad variety of products are made with petroleum or petrochemicals that use up a non-renewable resource and are a direct danger to human health. In most instances, all we can do is try to reduce the amount we use, choose products which contain recycled materials, and seek out those businesses which accept used products for safe disposal or recycling.
- If a hazardous product must be stored for a short period of time, use a strong container that will seal tightly. (We sometimes forget the dangers of fumes that can escape into our homes from partly closed containers.) Make sure the contents of the container are clearly labeled and include any instructions on use and disposal. Of course, even mildly toxic products should be kept safely away from children and pets.
- As a general rule, solidify liquids before disposal using newspaper or kitty litter. Never dump hazardous household products into storm sewers, which by-pass any water-treatment facilities.
Solvents, acids, batteries, cleaning materials, wood preservatives, and many other hazardous products are commonly found in our garages and workshops. We can find alternatives for a few of these, but sometimes there are no easy answers.
There really aren't any substitutes for many of the petroleum products used in automobile and machinery maintenance.
Hobby and art supplies, too, may often contain petrochemicals and other hazardous substances that do no more than colour the product, preserve it, or make it easier to apply.
What can we do? We can buy only small amounts of the safest products available, and handle them with great care. We can read labels, and ask questions. And we can share information with others who may be looking for simple, safe alternatives.