Hazardous waste contains substances that are potentially harmful to human health and the environment due to characteristics such as ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity. It can be generated from many different sources, including products commonly found at home, ranging from batteries to insecticides. In order to keep people and the environment safe, in 1989 the City of Tucson created the Household Hazardous Waste Program (HHWP). This program allows Pima County residents to drop off their household hazardous waste, which is sorted and safely recycled, reused, or disposed. Since the program’s inauguration, over 15 million pounds of hazardous waste have been collected. In February 2017, University of Arizona Superfund Research Program trainee, Camila Madeira, joined the HHWP team of volunteers working at the Main Site on Sweetwater Drive. The tasks of the volunteers are to greet the public as they enter the facility and provide information about the program, unload household waste from vehicles, and identify and sort the hazardous materials.
Madeira learned about the program through former students from her research group. According to Madeira, “Volunteering at the HHWP has been a great opportunity to help providing a safer environment for the Tucson community overall. The HHWP helps to minimize the risk of exposing the population to toxic materials and environmental contamination. Also, it promotes information that discusses the importance of hazardous waste management and how it is essential for a sustainable environment.”