Take the Hazard out of Hazardous Waste
Dangerous toxics are no doubt an integral part of our lifestyles as
they exist in many cleaning products, automotive products, and
construction materials. Many of them are found in the art room,
science room, wood-shop, and automotive garage in your school, but
even in a standard classroom simple glues and markers can negatively
affect indoor-air quality and then the environment when they are
disposed. What makes something “hazardous” anyway? According to the
University of Missouri Extension, Office of Waste Management, a
product is hazardous if it is flammable, reactive, corrosive, toxic,
or any combination of these.
According to California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard
Assessment, children are especially susceptible to the health
effects of everyday hazardous materials because the concentration
entering their bodies is higher relative to their size, they have
higher metabolic rates, and they have immature organ immune systems.
Simply teaching students the proper handling procedures for
classroom toxics is definitely a step in the right direction, but
using non-toxic alternatives is preferable because as we all know,
kids are kids and what kids handle will get all over their skin,
mouth, eyes, and clothes. And there are many ways that these toxics
can enter the blood stream: from the mouth, absorbing it through the
skin, and inhaling it into the lungs.
Reducing the amount of hazardous material your school purchases,
storing it properly, and disposing of it safely impacts the
environment just as much as the personal health of you and your
students. Tackling the issue of hazardous waste in the classroom can
have a profound effect on your students because if they can
understand how toxics affect them, they have the opportunity to also
learn how toxics affect their environment. Understanding and
managing the hazardous waste in your school can teach students that
our survival as humans depends on the survival of all.