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Post Your Problems
Yvonne Zanos: How to get rid of paint, pesticides

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Q: What can I do with old paint and pesticides? I don't know how to dispose of them.

Bethel Park

A: Join the club, Jane. If you take a look at most of our basements and garages, it's obvious few of us know how to get rid of these things. We know what we are not supposed to do with them. We are not supposed to put paints and pesticides in the trash or dump them down the drain. So what then?

If you are interested in a tax deduction, take your usable paint to the nonprofit warehouse Construction Junction in Point Breeze. Manager Mike Gable said he'll accept used paint as long as you've got at least half a gallon. Oil-based paint is accepted only if it's never been opened. Construction Junction will not take rusted cans or very old paint. If the labels are missing, it's not accepted, either.

While you are checking out your paint cans, look around for old building materials that you'd like to donate. Construction Junction accepts everything from doorknobs to kitchen sinks. Always call before donating because this company reserves the right to turn down anything it can't resell. The number to call for Construction Junction is 412-243-5025.

What about the rest of your paint? The quarter-filled cans, the rusted cans, the half-used cans of oil paint? Dave Mazza of Pennsylvania Resources Council said as long as the paint is dried out or hardened, you can throw it out with the trash.

"What you want to do with cans that are less than half empty is dry them out with kitty litter. Just pour some kitty litter into the paint can, leave the top off for about three days. When it hardens, it's ready for the trash," Mazza said. "If your cans are full, you can split the paint into two or three cans to make it easier to dry out."

Pesticides are a bigger problem. Mazza said there are independent companies that will pick up these kinds of products but probably not at a price you would think at all reasonable. But if you hold onto the cans and boxes for just a while longer, there will be an environmentally safe answer.

"In June, the Household Hazardous Waste Task Force will hold its first collection in Allegheny County," said Mazza. Although plans are not yet complete, the target date is June 14 at the Heinz Field parking lot. A fee per car will be charged but that charge will be much less than what an independent company would charge. Mazza said he thought it would be $20 per car, so be prepared to car pool and take advantage of the chance to clear out those dusty cans in the basement.

Q: I have many electrical items that no longer work, i.e: cameras, video recorder, outlet strip, video rewinder, to name a few. Because I have a heavy microwave, I was hoping to find someone who would pick these items up. I hate to just send them to the landfill. Can you help me with the disposal of these items?

Mt. Lebanon

A: There are no guarantees on electrical items. If they are in good working order, Goodwill Industries of Pittsburgh at 412-481-9000 welcomes any small housewares or electrical appliances. For electrical items that don't work, you might try Hi Tech Scrap at 412-731-5805. Owner Don Roethlein said he'll take any electrical equipment with engines and metal. Drop-off at his Point Breeze location is free. If you want your items picked up at your home, expect a $15 to $20 charge.

Leave a message describing your items and you might get lucky. (Suggestions from readers might help us out here.)

You can drop your microwave off at Appliance Warehouse at the corner of Sixth and Bingham streets on the South Side free of charge. If there is freon in the appliance you drop off, there is a $20 charge. If you want an appliance with or without freon picked up at curbside, there is a $34.95 charge. If you want it carried out of your home, it's $52.95. Each additional appliance without freon is $5. Every additional appliance with freon is $20. You can reach Appliance Warehouse at 412-381-8800.

Post Your Problems appears Tuesday through Friday, addressing questions and problems from readers. Yvonne Zanos from KDKA-TV looks into consumer-related issues, including difficulties with products and services. Post-Gazette Staff Writer Lawrence Walsh helps sort through bureaucratic problems.

Yvonne Zanos is KDKA-TV consumer editor. She can be reached at 412-575-2234, zanos@kdka.com, or go to www.kdka.com and click on Consumer Action and follow prompts, or write c/o KDKA-TV, One Gateway Center, Pittsburgh 15222.

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