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How do I dispose of old pesticides?

All home and garden pesticides are toxic to some degree. They should be stored according to label instructions in a secure place where children and pets cannot get to them, and any unwanted remains should be disposed of carefully and properly.

Following are some recommendations for the safe disposal of pesticides and their containers:

* The best way to dispose of small excess amounts of pesticide is to use them up....according to the label directions. Once used, the only disposal problem is with the empty container. Never, never reuse pesticide containers to carry or store other items, especially food or drinks. Triple rinse the empty container. Then apply the rinse water to needed sites. Make sure any aerosol spray cans are completely empty before they are placed in the trash. Never puncture, burn or crush an aerosol container, as it could explode. Wrap rinsed empty paper or foil pesticide containers in old newspapers before placing them in the trash.

* If you cannot use up the product, try to share it with someone who can. Make sure the shared product is in its original container, with legible labels, and that the recipient can follow the label directions for use.

* If the remaining pesticide cannot be properly used, check with the local Cooperative Extension Service, Department of Natural Resources, or solid waste agency to see if the community has a household hazardous waste collection program for getting rid of leftover unwanted pesticides. To identify a local solid waste agency, call 1-800-CLEANUP, or contact the National Pesticide Information Center at

* DO NOT pour leftover pesticides down a sink, sewer or drain, or into the toilet. DO NOT dump waste pesticides in the outdoors, and DO NOT bury pesticides in the ground. Pesticides may pollute waterways or interfere with the operation of wastewater treatment systems. Pesticides may harm fish, plants and other living things in local waterways.

* Wood preservatives are technically classified as pesticides. Use them up, share them with someone else, or save the leftovers to dispose of at a pesticide waste program. If the preservative contains pentachlorophenol, sometimes called PCP or penta, do not use the product. Package it carefully, and save it to dispose of at an EPA-sponsored PCP collection program.

* Remember, do not dump or bury unwanted pesticides, or pour pesticides down the drain, sink, sewer or toilet.