How do I properly dispose of old pesticides?
Old pesticides are commonly found in homes and on farms. Perhaps the most common source of waste pesticides are where consumers buy too much pesticide to do a job and never use the products.
For consumers (homeowners and landowners) disposing of old pesticides
in their original containers can be as simple as using the products as
labeled, IF they are still legally registered. To find out this
information either contact your local chemical or garden retailer or
your local Extension agent.
If these products are less than five years old and they have been stored properly they are likely to still be usable. Proper and safe use would be the most efficient means of disposal. If they have been subjected to freezing and heating in an outside storage area, they might not be viable pest controls. Even after a year under conditions where a product might freeze or heat up over 90 degrees F, products may lose their viability or may even change physically or chemically into certain by-products. These by-products might not necessarily be less toxic than the original product.
Other old pesticides such as DDT, lead arsenate, dieldrin, endrin, aldrin, toxaphene, 2,4,5-T, and chlordane have been banned for quite some time and are ILLEGAL to apply as directed on the product label. These products must be properly disposed of according to federal and state law. The only viable means to do so is to turn these materials into a local hazardous waste collection site. Many of these activities or services are sponsored by your local waste management authority. We suggest that you contact these authorities - listed either on the web under your local government or in the phone book under the government blue pages.
In addition, for landowners (owners of land either once used as a farm or actively farmed) there is a pesticide cleanup program sponsored in Virginia by the Virginia Pesticide Control Board, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Virginia Cooperative Extension. The information on this program can be obtained through your local Extension office or by looking on the VDACS Office of Pesticide Services website. In the future, this program may also be expanded to other homeowners.
Be extremely careful in handling old pesticide containers. Many can fall apart just by picking them up. Wear proper chemical resistant gloves to handle these containers. If they are intact, you are encouraged to seal them in another leakproof container such as a heavy mil plastic bag or multiple plastic bags, or plastic "Rubbermaid" type container. Then make sure these are stored in a cool dry and secure place (preferably outside the living areas of your home) until you can dispose of these materials properly.
If you have any questions about how to deal with waste pesticides contact your local Extension agent.