A household hazardous waste survey of Benton County, OR Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/dn39x4674

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  • Every year, the United States produces at least 236 million metric tons of hazardous waste. Hazardous waste is defined as solid waste that can pose a substantial threat to human health and the environment when disposed of incorrectly. Some commonly used household products, when disposed of, become hazardous waste; historically, much of this household hazardous waste (HHW) has been disposed of into systems not designed to safely handle hazardous waste. One solution to this disposal problem is providing safe disposal systems for household hazardous waste in the community. The purpose of this study was to survey the population of Benton County, OR to assess the residents' HHW disposal practices, attitudes and beliefs about HHW as an environmental health risk, and preferences for a safe disposal system. Benton County residents' awareness of the current community program for recycling used household items was also investigated. This study indicated that incorrect disposal methods were used by the majority of subjects for almost all HHW surveyed, and that for nonautomotive HHW, landfilling was the most common means of disposal. The majority of subjects in this study disposed of used motor oil and lead-acid batteries by recycling these HHW. A permanent collection site for HHW disposal was the preferred disposal option for 62% of subjects, and 100% of those subjects choosing this option said they would drive up to 5 miles to use this facility. This study indicates that the largest number of subjects preferred the option of paying a user fee for HHW disposal as a means of funding a HHW disposal system. Three-fourths of the subjects reported a high or moderate amount of concern about the contribution of HHW to pollution of surface and groundwater, and 68% of the subjects stated that they lacked confidence in the landfill to safely contain chemical wastes. Approximately one-half of the subjects recalled reading or hearing about HHW disposal in the past year, and 62% of the subjects stated that they would call their garbage disposal company for HHW disposal information. The results of this study indicate that 90% of the Benton County residents surveyed were aware of their curbside recycling program. This study suggests that Benton County residents are concerned about the possible adverse environmental health effects of incorrect HHW disposal, and supports a permanent collection site for the safe disposal of HHW, as well as increased public education, as means of reducing the risks to human health and the environment caused by incorrect HHW disposal.
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