Illegal Dumping Materials

California State Law
Many common products that we use in our daily lives contain potentially hazardous ingredients and require special care when disposed of. It is illegal to dispose of hazardous waste in the garbage, down the storm drain, or onto the ground. Chemicals in illegally disposed hazardous waste can be released into the environment and contaminate our air, water, and possibly the food we eat. By throwing hazardous waste in the garbage, you can cause additional hazards to your garbage handler.

The following items are illegal to throw into the trash in the State of California. For a complete list of all banned materials visit the California Integrated Waste Management Board.

Lights, Batteries & Electronics

  • Fluorescent lamps and tubes: Includes fluorescent tubes, compact fluorescent lamps, metal halide lamps, and sodium vapor lamps
  • Batteries: Includes all batteries, AAA, AA, C, D, button cell, 9-volt, and all others, both rechargeable and single use (Also lead-acid batteries such as car batteries)
  • Electronic devices: Includes televisions and computer monitors, computers, printers, VCRs, cell phones, telephones, radios, and microwave ovens
  • Computer and television monitors: Most monitors are currently considered hazardous waste when they have lived their life and are ready for recycling or disposal, including Cathode Ray Tube (CRT), liquid crystal diode (LCD), and plasma monitors
Mercury-Containing Items
  • Electrical switches and relays: Mercury switches (contains about 3.5 grams of mercury) can be found in some chest freezers, pre-1972 washing machines, sump pumps, electric space heaters, clothes irons, silent light switches, automobile hood and trunk lights, and ABS brakes
  • Thermostats that contain mercury: There is a mercury inside the sealed glass "tilt switch" of the old style thermostats (not the newer electronic kind)
  • Pilot light sensors: Mercury-containing switches are found in some gas appliances such as stoves, ovens, clothes dryers, water heaters, furnaces, and space heaters
  • Mercury gauges: Some gauges, such as barometers, manometers, blood pressure, and vacuum gauges contain mercury
  • Mercury thermometers: Mercury thermometers typically contain about 0.5 grams of mercury (Many health clinics, pharmacies, and doctor’s offices have thermometer exchange programs that will give you a new mercury-free fever thermometer in exchange for your old one)
  • Mercury-added novelties: Examples include greeting cards that play music when opened; athletic shoes (made before 1997) with flashing lights in soles, and mercury maze games.
Household & Landscape Chemicals
  • Flammables and poisons: Includes solvent-based (oil) paints and reactive and explosive materials
  • Acids, oxidizers, and bases: Includes some pool chemicals and cleaners
  • Pesticides and herbicides: Many pesticides and herbicides cannot be disposed in the trash (Consult the product label)
Paints & Solvents
  • Latex paint
  • Oil-based paint (Also listed under flammables)
  • Nonempty aerosol paint or solvent cans: All nonempty aerosol cans are banned from the trash
  • Solvents: Includes materials such as paint thinners, fingernail polish remover, etc.
Building Materials
  • Asbestos: Includes some older kinds of cement, roofing, flooring and siding. More information on asbestos in your home is available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Treated Wood: Includes wood that is treated with Chromium Copper Arsenate (CCA).
  • Antifreeze
  • Batteries
  • Motor oil and filters
  • Tires (Note that tires are not considered hazardous, but are banned from the trash for other reasons)
  • Compressed gas cylinders: Includes propane tanks used for BBQ or plumbing.
  • Needles and sharps generated in home health care: Includes hypodermic needles, hypodermic needles with syringes, blades, needles with attached tubing, syringes contaminated with biohazardous waste, acupuncture needles, root canal files, broken glass items such as Pasteur pipettes, and blood vials
  • PCB-containing materials: Includes paint and ballasts that contain Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB)
  • Photo waste (Silver bearing)
  • Nonempty aerosol cans that contain hazardous materials: Many aerosol cans contain flammables, like butane, as propellants for products like paint (If your aerosol can is labeled with words like "toxic" or "flammable" don’t put it in the trash unless it is completely empty.