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Frequently Asked Questions

Household hazardous waste includes wastes like used oil, paint, fluorescent lamps, pesticides, solvents and degreasers, batteries, pool and hot tub chemicals, thermometers and wood preservatives. If you don't have a locally-sponsored household hazardous waste collection event or facility available, but are located within driving distance of Denver, the WM Curbside facility may be able to accept your waste for a fee.  Contact them directly at 1-800-449-7587 or email atyourdoor@wm.com to see if they may be able to help you.  If other options are not available, most household wastes can be treated to make them safer for landfill disposal.


Household Waste Disposal Options


Computers and many other electronic equipment contains hazardous constituents like lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, chromium and silver.  These metals are usually found on the circuit boards, batteries and glass.  These constituents can leach out of the waste and potentially contaminate groundwater if not properly managed.  Electronics waste, or e-waste, should be recycled through a legitimate electronics recycler.


Electronics and Computer Waste Management  



DO NOT flush medications down the toilet or drain. Flushing even small quantities of household medications down the drain can contaminate ground water and drinking water supplies.  The best option is to take waste medications to a collection program.  In areas where such options aren't available, household medical wastes can be stabilized (treated in some way) to make them safer for landfill disposal. 


Medical and Pharmaceutical Waste for Households   


If a mercury-containing thermometer, fluorescent lamp or compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) gets broken in your home or business, you should clean it up as quickly as possible.  If not cleaned up properly, the mercury vaporizes slowly over time and exposes you, your family or your employees to toxic fumes.


Broken Thermometer and Fluorescent Bulb Cleanup Guidance for Households pdf file   


Mercury Spill and Fluorescent Bulb Cleanup Guidance for Businesses pdf file   


Inhalation of asbestos fibers may cause cancer.  Asbestos can be found in insulation, acoustical soundproofing materials, floor tile, roofing materials and siding.  Although homeowners may remove asbestos from their primary residence themselves, you are strongly advised to utilize a certified asbestos abatement contractor to minimize risk of exposure to your family.  You must make sure that all asbestos waste is properly packaged for disposal before it leaves your home.  Asbestos can only be taken to a landfill that is specifically permitted to accept it, so be sure to contact the landfill before you or your contractor removes the asbestos to make sure it is accepted there. 


The Air Pollution Control Division's Asbestos Compliance Assistance Group can provide information on removal requirements and recommendations.


Asbestos Waste Disposal Compliance Bulletin pdf file

Air Pollution Control Division Asbestos Compliance Assistance Group  


Some household hazardous waste collection programs will accept old paint, but most recommend drying the paint and disposing of it with your regular trash.  The paint must be dry because landfills are not allowed to accept liquid wastes. 


Household Waste Disposal Options 

Syringes, pen needles and lancets are not recyclable and should never be place in a recycle bin. 


The preferred option is to use a commercially available sharps container that you take to a local sharps collection program if one is available.  Programs are currently available in Mesa, Larimer and El Paso counties and are restricted to residents of those counties. 


If a local program is not available, the next preferred option is to utilize a sharps mailback program where the service provider sends you a prepaid sharps collection container and return box.  When you return the container, the contents are sent to a medical waste treatment facility for processing and disposal.


If you can't afford to utilize a mailback service, you should place your used sharps in a strong plastic or metal container with a screw-on lid or lid that can be tightly secured.  Do not use glass containers or used milk containers.  Clearly label the container with the words "Sharps" or "Biohazardous Waste."  The securely sealed container can be placed in your trash.  Do NOT put the container in with your recyclables.


Medical and Pharmaceutial Waste Information for Households

A few household hazardous waste programs are beginning to collect used animal and vegetable oils for biodiesel generation.  If a collection program is not available, household cooking oil can be treated to make it safer for landfill disposal.  


Household Waste Disposal Options    


The preferred (and often only) method for the management of old propane cylinders and canisters is to recycle them.  Never put a propane cylinder or canister into a dumpster or other disposal container and avoid cutting the cylinder with a torch or cutting wheel.  The cylinder may still contain propane and is a potential fire and explosion hazard.


Household Waste Disposal Options  


Home smoke alarms are one of two types: a photoelectric alarm or an ionization alarm.  Ionization alarms contain a small amount of radioactive material that makes them work.  If you have an ionization alarm, you should return the alarm to the manufacturer for proper disposal.  The address of the manufacturer is usually listed on the back of the product, in the product warranty or in the user's manual.  If the manufacturer is out of business or will not accept the alarm, it can be disposed of in your trash.  The battery should be removed from the alarm prior to disposal and recycled separately.  To prevent damage to the radioactive source, wrap the smoke alarm in several layers of newspaper before placing it in the trash.


Household hazardous waste includes wastes like used oil, paint, fluorescent lamps, pesticides, solvents and degreasers, batteries, pool and hot tub chemicals, thermometers and wood preservatives generated in and around the home. Some local communities have household hazardous waste collection programs for their residents in order to minimize the amount of these wastes being disposed of in local landfills.  These may include drop-off sites with fixed hours, curbside collection with scheduled pickup or single day round-up events. These programs are usually limited to residents of the city or county that sponsors them.  If a collection program is not available in your area, or if you are moving and can't wait for a scheduled event, most household wastes can be treated to make them safer for landfill disposal.


Managment of Household Wastes


Radioactive rocks should not be placed in the trash, as these will often set off sensitive alarms at the landfill.  Although most radioactive mineral samples are relatively harmless, it is safest to put the rock outdoors in a rock garden or bury it in your yard.


The Division maintains a list of permitted solid waste sites and facilities on our website.  Most of these facilities accept waste from the pubic, but some are not permitted to do so.  Others may not accept certain wastes such as asbestos or construction and demolition wastes.  Contact the facility first before taking any waste to them.  You may also find waste disposal facilities listed in a telephone or Internet business directory.


Active Solid Waste Facilities List pdf file  

Active Solid Waste Transfer Stations List pdf file  


The Division offers an Environmental Records Search service for a fee to search division databases for sites within a set radius of the site of interest (e.g., your home).  A records search only identifies properties that we have files on and does not evaluate the existence or potential for environmental contamination.  The absence of information on properties on or near a particular site of interest does not necessarily meant that there are no environmental concerns connected with the property.


Environmental Records Search


You may also perform a search yourself using U.S. EPA's online databases (exit to EPA). 




Cleanups in My Community Web Tool