Objective: Students will investigate and classify possible sources of hazardous waste in their home, and develop and practice responsible water quality protection habits as related to hazardous household chemicals.

Materials: Household Hazardous Waste Wheel (one copy per student), empty, clean containers of various hazardous household products (ex. drain cleaner, bleach, floor, and furniture products), sheets of large newsprint or tag board, markers

Background: Many of the products used in our homes contain chemicals that can be harmful to human health if used improperly and may contribute to contamination of air in our homes and/or surface and groundwater after disposal. Students may know of problems or accidents involving hazardous household products. It is important that we are informed about these products, their proper usage and disposal and sources of less harmful alternatives.

Have students cut out and assemble the Household Hazardous Waste Wheel.

Demonstrate proper use of the wheel and discuss the terms used on the wheel (see Vocabulary Glossary for definitions).

Divide students into groups of three or four and distribute markers, newsprint and an empty, clean container of hazardous household product. Have students draw their product on the paper, then read the labels on their product, and use their wheels to find information on that hazardous product.

Have students make a list on the paper of the types of information listed on the label (ex. list of ingredients, warnings, proper usage and disposal, safer alternatives, etc.). Have each group present the information to the class.

Have students research to find other recommendation of hazardous waste disposal and sources of homemade products that could be used in place of common household chemicals.

Have students prepare game cards of different hazardous household products by placing illustration or cut out pictures (from catalogs, trade magazines garden/chemical suppliers, newspaper ads, coupons, etc.) on 3x5 index cards. Have groups of students devise games in which they time themselves on how long it takes to categorize the products (categories could be corrosives, toxics, flammables, etc.). They may also devise a variation on traditional card games such as Go Fish, Concentration, Old Maid, Spoons, and others.

Divide students into small groups (3-6 students per group) and have them draw a mural to illustrate how hazardous chemicals can enter surface and groundwater. Display murals in the school hallways and have other grade levels vote on each mural (give a prize to each group. Some suggested categories in which to judge each mural by would be: most colorful mural, best illustration of groundwater contamination, etc.).

Vocabulary Glossary:
Corrosive: A chemical that will weaken or destroy an item by a gradual process
Flammable: Capable of being easily ignited and of burning with extreme rapidity
Hazardous Waste: Waste or a combination of wastes, that because of its quantity, concentration or physical, chemical or infectious characteristics may cause or significantly contribute to an increase mortality or an increase in serious irreversible or incapacitating illness
Irritant: A substance or chemical that causes sourness, roughness or inflammation of a bodily part
Poisonous: A substance that through its chemical action usually kills, injures, or impairs an organism
Reclamation Center: A place where you can take items to be recycled or disposed of
Recycle: To use again and again
Sanitary Sewer: A sewer that carries only household and commercial wastewater
Grade Level:

Subject Areas:
Math, Science, Visual Arts

SD Standards for 4th grade:


Visual Arts


Classification, inference communication, data collection, organization, interpretation

Prior Preparation: Have students complete the Scavenger Hunt activity as a lead into Hazardous Homework. Students should understnad the basic concept that everything flushed down a toilet, poured down a drain or poured on the ground will end up in the water.

hazardous waste, recycle, corrosive, poisonous, flammable, irritant, reclamation center, sanitary sewer
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