Hazardous Waste & Toxic Use Reduction

The continued growth of towns across Massachusetts has exacerbated problems with the disposition of waste. Households generate a great deal of toxic waste every year in the form of common cleaners, paint products, automotive materials, mercury containing devices such as fluorescent lights and thermostats, and numerous other items. Much of this waste ends up in landfills or contaminates surface waters.

Programs at the Minuteman Hazardous Products Regional Facility help address these problems.

Toxics Use Reduction Program

Recent estimates indicate that the average home generates more than 25 lbs of hazardous material every year.

To help residents reduce the amount of hazardous materials and waste in the home, the Health Division promotes toxics use reduction. A brochure on toxic use reduction is available from the Health Department.

DPW and the Health Division jointly sponsor periodic medical waste collection days.

 

Minuteman Household Hazardous Waste Facility Collections

Residents may bring hazardous waste to the Minuteman Facility on scheduled weekend days from April to November.  Small businesses may also bring such products to the facility for a fee.

Mercury-containing products are accepted on hazardous waste collection days.  The Health Department will accept mercury-containing products on a limited basis, including thermostats, switches, thermometers, blood pressure cuffs and barometers. Expended or broken fluorescent bulbs must be brought to the Minuteman Facility or the Universal Waste Shed.

Many products used in the home, office, and schools contain mercury—such as thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, barometers, fluorescent light bulbs, energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs, electrical switches, and thermostats. 

Young children and the developing fetus are particularly sensitive to the effects of mercury. Pregnant women are advised to limit their intake of certain types of fish.

Mercury is of particular concern to towns like Lexington where much of the trash generated is burned in an incinerator. This process deposits mercury through the air to local ponds and streams. Mercury enters the food chain as fish and other wildlife eventually consume mercury-containing material. Many bodies of water are off-limits for fishing in Massachusetts and other New England states.