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Clean Sweep nets eight tons of toxins

3:55 PM, Jun. 13, 2013  |  Comments
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The Clean Sweep held May 3 and 4 collected more than eight tons of hazardous chemical waste from households, farms and businesses.

About 140 households throughout Fond du Lac County contributed potentially dangerous items in three locations, Brandon, Campbellsport and the FDL County Fairgrounds. They filled 86 steel drums (which hold 55 gallons apiece).

In Brandon, the waste filled 15 drums. In Campbellsport, the waste filled 17 drums. The collection at the fairgrounds filled one semi truck with 54 drums.

UW-Extension reports that the most common items from households were aerosols, flammable paints, fuels and batteries, which came to more than three tons.

Pesticides and poisons, again just from households, amounted to 3,500 pounds. As usual, residents brought in smaller amounts of dioxins (29 pounds); and mercury (14 pounds).

Any of these chemicals could have caused negative environmental and health impacts had they been placed in the usual garbage, burned in a burn barrel, or ingested by a child. "Eight tons of chemical waste is not going down the drain or into a landfill," according to Diana Hammer Tscheschlok, a natural resources educator with UW-Extension. "It's great to see people protecting the drinking water, surface water, and the air we all use."

UW-Extension of Fond du Lac County coordinated the event, and hired Veolia Environmental Systems to package, transport and dispose of the chemicals. Treatment options include safe incineration of the flammable materials and recycling of other items.

The UW-Extension maintains a list of items, from drugs to electronics and expired fire extinguishers, that are not safe in landfills. Directions for their proper disposal are at http://fonddulac.uwex.edu/CleanSweep.

This is the largest amount collected by Clean Sweep in five years. The collection is funded by a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection and Fond du Lac County.

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