Down the Drain
Dumping hazardous chemicals down household drains puts the environment in jeopardy.
Used paint thinner, old insecticides, and water softener brine are not the kind of stuff you want to keep around the house. Washing these hazardous and harmful chemicals down the drain can create tremendous environmental damage.
Danger to the river
Once harmful chemicals are introduced into the wastewater it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to remove them. The Ojai Valley Sanitary District’s wastewater treatment plant is a remarkably efficient system for processing biological waste but it has no way to remove salts and other chemical compounds. These agents are simply transferred to the delicate Ventura River ecosystem habitat, which includes the endangered steelhead trout.
Danger to the air
You might not imagine that wastewater has anything to do with air quality. However, during several stages of wastewater treatment vapors can be released into the air. When wastewater contains improperly disposed hazardous solvents such as perchlorethylene–an ingredient in some automotive degreasers and drycleaning solutions–this becomes a significant air quality issue.
Danger to the system
Hazardous wastes can become a great threat if they are disposed of inappropriately. Some cities have documented cases of sewer line explosions from flammable liquids. Other compounds may have a corrosive or obstructive effect on sewer lines. The result can be biological contamination as well as pollution.
What you can do
There are three ways to eliminate chemical contamination of the environment.
Reduce the amount
Consider carefully how much you need of any toxic substance before you buy it. If you need a small amount of something such as paint thinner, try asking a neighbor. Consider using environmentally-friendly alternatives.
Read the label
Warning labels often have important information about disposal and handling. “Do not mix with bleach,” is one such warning that lets you know that the product can create a toxic substance if improperly handled.
Dispose of properly
Hazardous waste collection centers are available to residents several times a year. Ojai City residents can call the city’s Recycling Coordinator at (805) 646-8889. Residents in unincorporated areas can call Ventura County Solid Waste Management Department (805) 654-2889.