What is Hazardous Waste

What is Hazardous Waste?

Hazardous waste is waste that is dangerous or potentially harmful to our health or the environment. Hazardous wastes can be liquids, solids, gases or sludges, and can be ignitable, reactive, corrosive, or toxic. Hazardous waste is regulated by the EPA under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. This is also known as the “Cradle to Grave” law.

What is Household Hazardous Waste?

EPA considers some leftover household products that can catch fire, react, or explode under certain circumstances, or that are corrosive or toxic as household hazardous waste. Products, such as certain paints, oils, batteries, and pesticides can contain hazardous ingredients and require special care when you dispose of them.
While most hazardous wastes that are ignitable, reactive, corrosive or toxic are regulated under Subtitle C of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Congress developed an exclusion for household waste. Under this exclusion, found in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 261.4, wastes generated by normal household activities (e.g., routine house and yard maintenance) are excluded from the definition of hazardous waste.
Although household hazardous waste is excluded from Subtitle C of RCRA, it is regulated under Subtitle D of this law as a solid waste. In other words, household hazardous waste is regulated on the state and local level.

Common household waste includes:
  • Flammable or combustible paints & solvents (oil-based wood stains, mineral spirits, etc.)
  • Automotive Fluids (gas, diesel fluid, oil)
  • Pesticides and Herbicides
  • Products with mercury (thermometers, thermostats & fluorescent lights)
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Acids – muriatic acid for pools and fish tanks
  • Caustics – sodium hydroxide for soap-making or drain cleaning

Many household waste items can be disposed of throughout the year at various locations. Visit https://www.zerobyfiftymissoula.com for other options.


You can reduce household hazardous waste by buying the smallest amount needed for the job and using alternatives that are less hazardous whenever possible!