On an annual basis, around 100,000 residents drop off waste items at Hennepin County's drop-off facilities and collection events. Waste is then managed by the county in the most environmentally-protective, cost-effective method. While initially processed in the United States, some materials, such as metal and paper, are eventually sold in international commodities markets.
Why This is Important
Household hazardous wastes and problem materials can harm human health and the environment if they are not properly treated, stored, transported and disposed. By collecting and managing hazardous materials, the county avoids the environmental and health issues associated with them.
Examples of the Potential Hazards We Avoid
Mercury- A potent nervous system toxin which also affects reproduction and development. Developing fetuses and young children are especially at risk from mercury exposure. Mercury vapor is easily absorbed in the lungs and is toxic at low concentrations in air. Both long-term (chronic) and short-term (acute) exposure to mercury vapors are health threats. Because mercury does not degrade, it accumulates in the environment, reaching dangerous levels in fish, which result in fish consumption advisories.
Motor Oil- One gallon of improperly disposed motor oil can contaminate 1 million gallons of fresh water.
Lead- Lead enters the body when you inhale lead fumes or lead dust, or swallow something that contains lead. Your body does not have a use for lead. If you are exposed to a small amount, your body will discharge it. If you are exposed to small amounts over time or one large dose, your body may take in more than it can eliminate. Lead poisoning is a disease that occurs when too much lead builds up in the body. Lead, one of the top 25 toxic chemical pollutants in Minnesota, is also found in most fishing jigs and sinkers. This metal has an adverse effect on the nervous and reproductive systems of mammals and birds, and is poisoning wildlife such as loons and eagles.