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Why It’s Vital to Properly Dispose of Pesticides

June 16, 2015

The Popularity of Pesticides

With summer comes the unpleasant accompaniment of the insects that, at times, can create misery in our lives. From farmers to homeowners, many people turn to pesticides to control whatever inconvenience they may be experiencing—and there are a wide range of uses.

In fact, in 2007—according to an EPA published report—the usage in the United States amounted to 1.1 billion pounds, totaling $12.5 billion in sales. On a larger scale, those numbers equated to 5.2 billion pounds and $40 billion worldwide.

Given these staggering numbers, it’s natural to wonder if many of these harmful pesticides are being disposed of in proper fashion.

A pesticide, by definition, is any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. This would include the likes of those aforementioned insects, rodents, microorganisms, etc.

Not surprisingly, they also pose some risk to humans and the environment. To humans, the acute exposure to them has these potentially harmful effects:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Rashes
  • Dizziness
  • Aching joints
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Asthma

Potential long-term effects can include:

  • Cancer
  • Birth defects
  • Neurological problems
  • Genetic damage
  • Chemical sensitivity development

The toll they can take on the environment is equally harmful. The Pesticide Action Network states that bees, bats, and frogs are all dying off in bunches, largely due to exposure to these harmful substances. Additionally, pesticides that manage to make their way into bodies of water can poison fish and other aquatic creatures for long periods of time.

All the more reason to ensure they are discarded properly.

But what is the proper way? Well, it depends.


Clearly, pesticides can have some nasty effects if they are not handled and disposed through the correct channels.

Unfortunately, with how common they are and the lack of education some have on the topic, one has to wonder how often that actually happens. From your average, everyday, household user to small, rural farms who use them in larger quantities, it’s not farfetched to imagine some poor habits have probably formed.

Any pesticide that is classified as a hazardous waste is regulated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which dictates that they must be disposed of properly—typically meaning by a licensed hazardous waste contractor.

The best bet when it comes to getting rid of excess amounts, on a commercial or industrial scale, is by calling a company—like Hazardous Waste Experts—to take care of removal for you in a cost-effective and compliant way. It’s as simple as that.

And while it may be slightly more difficult for small generators, there are still options.

Some cities or counties have hazardous waste facilities at which they readily accept most household hazardous waste. If you have excess pesticides on hand, simply store them safely until you can venture to one of those locations.

For others, the notion of taking up valuable space to store these materials, and subsequently finding time to haul them to one of these locations is cumbersome.

If you have a small excess of pesticides, attempt to use them according to the directions or consider giving them to a neighbor who is experiencing a similar pest problem. Otherwise, if you must get rid of them, you’ll want to find time and take them to a facility near you.

If you do have a completely empty container make sure triple rinse it before tossing it away in order to make sure all of the harmful content is removed. By being proactive and completing this important step, you’ll help prevent soil and groundwater contamination.

While pesticides are seemingly part of everyday life nowadays, following these procedures will ensure human and environmental exposure is limited.

Photo Credit: Vilseskogen via Compfight cc

Disposal of hazardous waste doesn’t have to be painful.