Toxics Management Division
Toxics Management Division

Residents Topic Listing

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from Residents - If you have a chemical emergency, please dial 9-1-1. [more...]

 Household Hazardous Waste    -             Many common products we use in our homes or at work contain hazardous materials, some of which can be harmful to human health or the environment. When household products which are harmful to humans or the environment are discarded, they are classified as "household hazardous waste" or HHW. In California, it is illegal to dispose of HHW in the trash, down the drain, or by abandonment.

The US Environmental Protection Agency initially classified hazardous waste to control what is permissible to be disposed of in early landfills which were not robust and could not contain all the chemicals that were regularly dumped in them. California EPA built on the US EPA list and added more chemicals considered hazardous waste.

Alameda County has a program, paid for by an assessment to property taxes, that will take HHW from county residents for free. Please go to for hours of operation and materials they accept and not accept.

To help you identify some of the harmful effects of common household products, please see the extensive list in the NIH database:

In general, wastes that are harmful are classified into a few categories called characteristics of hazardous wastes. Many products exhibit more than one characteristic of hazardous waste.

Manufacturers are required to provide users of their products with Safety Data Sheets (SDS) that list chemicals (over 1%) and outline the hazards of the products they manufacture or distribute. The SDS is an essential document to review when determining what the hazards of any product in the home. The label on the product also has a summary of the SDS information. You are encouraged to review he SDS on the manufacturer's web pages.

Hazardous Waste Characteristics and Common Household Products:

Toxic: Many products are toxic to humans and the environment in high concentrations and sufficiently large doses. Some chemicals like copper is toxic to aquatic organisms but not to humans. Latex paints may have heavy metal pigments which are toxic, such as cadmium or nickel. Most pesticides and herbicides are toxic to humans and the environment. Fluorescent bulbs contain toxic mercury and phosphorous. Batteries can contain either corrosive (acid or alkaline) or toxic components (cadmium or lithium) or reactive components (lithium).

Flammable: Some materials will ignite at room temperature with a spark. Such wastes are considered hazardous for flammability. These include gasoline, propane, many undiluted spirits, solvents and de-greasers. Flammable HHW can cause fires at home if spilled and can also exhibit some characteristics of toxicity. Flammable products in the home can pose fire hazards if they leak or are spilled in earthquakes.

Corrosive: Batteries, acid solutions, lime (or lye), etc can be corrosive and harmful to both humans and the environment. Many batteries can also be reactive (lithium), and toxic (cadmium).

Reactive: Lithium batteries, concentrated acid (sulfuric). Reactive products must be segregated from other products. Lithium batteries must be taped prior to disposal so they do not react with other batteries. Sulfuric acid etch products must be separated from organic materials.

Drugs: Some drugs can be hazardous waste but most are not. The harm of drugs are by accidental use or misuse of the drugs. Some drugs classified as controlled substances (may create dependence) are hard to dispose of and generally the best place to take them are in Vet Hospitals such as in Vallejo. Some communities have drug take back days where you can also dispose of controlled substances. Other drugs can generally be disposed of at some pharmacies. Go to to find your local disposal sites.  [more...]

 Community Right-to-Know and File Reviews - The City of Berkeley Toxics Management Division (TMD) maintains documents related to the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA).  EPCRA was designed to improve community access to information about chemical hazards and to facilitate the development of chemical emergency response plans by state/tribe and local governments. The reporting requirements established under Community Right-To-Know laws provide the public with important information on chemicals that can be hazardous in their communities.  Being aware of chemical hazards within a community will help facilitate emergency planning and public disclosure of toxic chemicals.   To learn more about EPCRA, please visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPCRA website, or see the Community Right-To-Know Guide from the California Office of Emergency Services. [more...]

 Odor Complaint - The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) is the lead agency to investigate and control odors in the city. It is important to report foul odors immediately to BAAQMD to begin an investigation and trace odors. It is this process that determines sources and starts corrective actions. Inspectors interview the observer, track the odor source and provide advice to modify operations as needed. They may also issue violation notices if appropriate, and will coordinate with enforcement agencies to enforce odor control requirements. [more...]

 Recycle Used Oil - In California, used oil is a hazardous waste.  It can contain such contaminants as lead, magnesium, copper, zinc, chromium, arsenic, and chlorinated compounds.  Motor oil poured onto the ground or into storm drains, or tossed into trash cans (even in a sealed container) can contaminate and pollute the soil, groundwater, streams, and rivers (and it's illegal!).  The oil from a single oil change (1 gallon) can ruin a million gallons of drinking water – a year’s supply for 50 people.  Recycling your used motor oil reduces this pollution threat. [more...]

 City Of Berkeley Wood Smoke Nuisance Ordinance -
On October 7, 2008, the Berkeley City Council adopted Ordinance No 7063 - N.S.  This ordinance added Chapter 15.16 to the Berkeley Municipal Code (BMC) defining standards and a process for establishing a nuisance condition for wood smoke for the immediate and confronting neighbors of an indoor wood burning device.  [more...]

 Biodiesel Regulations and City of Berkeley Biodiesel Use Policy - Effective June 1, 2009 - New State Regulations for Biodiesel Storage in Underground Storage Tanks [more...]

Commissions: Community Environmental Advisory Commission Homepage - Subscribe to this page to receive e-mail notification when new information is posted [more...]

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Toxics Management Division, 2120 Milvia Street 3rd Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704
Questions or comments? Email: Phone: (510) 981-7460
(510) 981-CITY/2489 or 311 from any landline in Berkeley
TTY: (510) 981-6903