What do I do with

Household Toxins

The Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission promotes the proper management of household toxins in Black Hawk County. These items can be harmful to the environment and human health if they are not properly managed.

Household toxins (also known as “Household Hazardous Materials” or “HHMs”) are found in homes, basements, and garages. These materials can pose a threat to our health and safety and to the environment if not managed properly. Household products that are considered hazardous typically contain one or more Look for "signal words" on the packaging of household toxins.
“signal words” such as “Warning”, “Caution”, “Danger”, or “Poison” because they contain chemicals that are:

  • Toxic (poisonous)
  • Flammable (can burn easily)
  • Corrosive (can eat through materials)
  • Reactive (can explode or create poisonous vapors)


Avoid Purchasing Hazardous Cleaning Products

Many common household cleaning products can contain chemicals that are hazardous to our health and pollute the environment.

  • The EPA’s Safer Choice Standard certifies products that are safer for human health and the environment. Explore their interactive map or use their search box to find a wide variety of Safer Choice products for your home.Avoid household toxins and make your own cleaners from materials in your own kitchen!
  • You can make your own less toxic home cleansers with items you may already have in your kitchen cupboard.


Product Stewardship & Extended Producer Responsibility

Before purchasing hazardous chemicals, check with that retailer about their corporate Product Stewardship or Extended Producer Responsibility policies for the products they sell. Does their corporation offer a program to take back unused, unwanted, or out of date household toxins for disposal through their store?


Spring & Fall Drop-off Events for Household Toxins and Electronics

Household toxins and electronics are accepted at Commission-sponsored drop-off events.Twice per year, the Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission subsidizes household toxic materials and electronics recycling drop-off events. BOTH events are open to ALL Black Hawk County residents, to get rid of approved items from their homes and garages.

The proper disposal of household toxins and the recycling of all electric/electronic items collected during these events is paid for by the Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission, although some fees may apply for certain electronic items.

  • The Spring Drop-off Event is hosted at a City of Waterloo site.
  • The Fall Drop-off Event is hosted at a City of Cedar Falls site.
  • During each of the 5 hour long events, the Commission recruits volunteers to assist with unloading materials from 600-1,000 vehicles!


Managed Locally

Some household toxins can be managed on a daily basis in the Cedar Valley, in order to avoid waiting in line during a Commission-sponsored drop-off event (or manage between events). Also, materials such as paint, motor oil, and antifreeze are not accepted during drop-off events and must be managed locally.


Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) & Tube Fluorescent Bulbs

Fluorescent bulbs contain a small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing, which allows the bulb to be an efficient light source. No mercury is released when the bulbs are in use and handled carefully. Mercury is only emitted when these bulbs are broken.

Proper handling and recycling of fluorescent bulbs ensures that the mercury, metal, and glass can be recycled. There are several options for recycling fluorescent bulbs in Black Hawk County:

*Disclaimer: Call ahead, as services vary & policies may change. Fees may apply.



Batteries come in many shapes, sizes, and chemical compositions. Improperly disposed batteries can pose a hazard to human health and the environment.

  • Alkaline batteries are not considered household toxins and should be thrown away.Throw away:
    • Alkaline Batteries (Single Use – AA, AAA, C, and D) are not considered a hazardous material by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. They are commonly used in flashlights, clocks, kids’ toys, etc. but do not have as long of a “life” as rechargeable batteries.
  • Recycle:
    • Button batteries are small, round and silver-colored and often contain mercury, silver or lithium. Commonly found in watches, hearing aids, car keys, cameras, calculators, and other small electronic devices.
    • Rechargeable batteries are considered household toxins and should be recycled.Rechargeable Batteries are hazardous to your health and the environment as they contain heavy metals like cadmium. Recycle these batteries when they are no longer able to hold a charge.
      • Nickel-cadmium (NiCd) – Commonly found in cell phones, laptop computers, power tools, handheld electronics, toys, & R/C hobby vehicles.
      • Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) – Commonly found in cell phones, laptop computers, power tools, video cameras, & handheld electronics.
      • Nickle Metal Hydride (NiMH) – Commonly found in cell phones, laptop computers, power tools, cameras, handheld electronics, & R/C hobby vehicles.
      • Sealed Lead Acid Batteries (non-automotive) – Commonly found in battery backups for computers, remote control cars, or home alarms.
      • Lead Acid Batteries (automotive)
    • Best Buy in Waterloo (319-833-9261) and many home improvement stores offer battery recycling programs. Search by zip code for all local recycling locations registered through Call2Recycle.
    • Battery+Bulbs in Waterloo (319-493-7025) accepts a wide assortment of battery types for a fee.
    • Button Batteries and Rechargeable Batteries are also accepted from county residents at Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission sponsored Drop-off Events in the spring and fall.


Propane Tanks

Propane tanks come in all different sizes and need to be disposed of properly when they reach the end of their refillable life. Gas grill propane tanks have a 12 year life span and are stamped with this certification date. A tank may be re-certified and put back into use, or be taken out of circulation if no longer serviceable.

Propane tanks are considered household toxins and should be recycled.Small Propane Tanks (Grill Size)

  • Contact your retailer to see if the tank can be returned to them or exchanged for a new tank.
  • Check in the yellow pages of the phone book under “gas-propane” for a recycler of tanks.
  • Accepted from county residents at Black Hawk County Solid Waste Management Commission sponsored Drop-off Events in the spring and fall.

Large Supply Tanks

  • Contact a licensed propane company for removal.
  • Check yellow page listing under “gas-propane” for a recycler of tanks.

Stay Safe:

  • Use up all residual gas, for non-refillable (disposable) tanks.
  • Do NOT put a cylinder into a dumpster or other disposal container. This could create an explosion hazard!
  • Do not attempt to remove the valve from the tank. Special safety equipment is required to prevent an explosion.
  • Always transport your cylinder in a secure, upright position, so it will not fall, roll, or shift.



Paint is not accepted during Commission sponsored Drop-off events. Learn more about purchasing the correct amount of paint, sharing usable paint, and properly disposing of unwanted paint.


Motor Oil and Automotive Products

When purchasing automotive products, check with the store or service center about their end-of-life recycling policy for the material. Find out more information on the following automotive products:

  • Lead Acid Batteries
  • Motor Oil and Oil Filters
  • Antifreeze and Automotive Fluids

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