HWTR Dangerous Materials

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Aerosol Cans

Aerosol cans are often easy to use, but they may be difficult to dispose of safely.  Often the contents are toxic and/ or flammable. They also may be dangerous waste because the contents are under pressure. 

Aerosol cans that contained dangerous waste do not have to be disposed of as dangerous waste once they have been completely emptied through use. A can is empty when completely sprayed out, and minimal or no product remains in the can.  Use the aerosol product for its intended purpose.  Containers holding compressed gases are empty when the pressure inside the container is equal—or nearly equal—to atmospheric pressure.

Empty Containers discusses when a container is empty and the general rules about empty containers.

There are two options for disposing of aerosol cans with hazardous contents:

  1. Send the can with its contents to a permitted dangerous-waste-management facility.

  2. Puncture the can with a commercial puncturing device. Drain and collect the contents, and manage as hazardous waste. This means putting a hazardous waste label and risk label on the container used to hold the contents and keeping it closed when not in use. If pouring into a funnel, remove drained cans promptly and replace and latch funnel lids. Recycle empty cans as scrap metal.

Related information

Focus on Aerosol Can Management is an Ecology publication that answers questions about aerosol containers.