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When Do Gardening Chemicals Become Hazardous

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 9 Dec 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Garden Chemicals Handling Garden

Many gardeners fall into the trap of buying far more chemicals than they need each year and many of us will have some kind of garden chemical containers which have not been fully used up gathering dust in our sheds or garages somewhere. The problem is that some of these products will degrade over a period of time and they can potentially become harmful and hazardous to both humans and any pets we might keep.

Typical Products Which Could Become Hazardous

There are many different kinds of garden products which can be hazardous. These can include:

  • Weed and moss killers and treatments for the removal of algae
  • Rodent poison and slug pellets
  • Fly, ant and wasp killers
  • Paints and timber treatments

Disposal Of Potentially Hazardous Garden Chemicals

The first thing that should be said is that you should try to limit the volume of these kinds of items you buy each year. It’s often difficult to guess how much you might need for a particular job you have planned but it’s far better, safer and more environmentally friendly to run out and to make a quick return trip to the supplier than to have a stockpile in your shed. You local council will be able to advise you on what you should do with any unused chemicals and they will have some kind community recycling plant to which you can take them. Once there, they will be identified by a chemist and then disposed of in the correct manner.

What You Shouldn’t Do

The problems caused by hazardous garden chemicals are mostly due to people not taking enough care or time to find out how they should go about disposing of them after use or by not following the proper instructions contained on the label. Here’s a list of things to bear in mind:

  • Do not pour garden chemicals down the sink or put them in the bin as they can contaminate land and water supplies
  • Take extra care if the product has a hazard warning label on it and always read and follow the instructions
  • Do not increase the recommended concentration as it is likely not to have any extra effect but will be more likely to poison the soil
  • If using a mixture, only make the amount up that you’re going to need in any one treatment. Avoid making a surplus supply. Ready to use products are far better than those you have to dilute when it comes to safety
  • If a container is empty, make sure you rinse it out thoroughly and then empty it over uncultivated ground and not down the drain. Then, you can put the container in the household waste bin. However, if the container is made of plastic, do not put this into a plastic recycling bin as these kinds of containers are not suitable for recycling due to the possible contamination of future plastic materials that will be made from recyclables.

Two final points – pets can be very susceptible to garden chemicals so ensure that any product you intend using on your garden has been approved as ‘pet safe’. And, it should really go without saying, but be sure that young children are made well aware of the dangers of garden chemicals and are kept well away from them. This is another very good reason for you to only buy the sufficient amount you’ll need so that it avoids a stockpile of potentially lethal chemicals building up in your shed.

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