Hazardous materials can be found in most common household products: mothballs, cleansers, antifreeze, polishes and disinfectants. Even nail polish remover and car waxes are potentially poisonous. Care must be taken in the use and disposal of each product and its container. Anything going down your sink or toilet will go into your septic system and ultimately into the Lake!
- Aerosol cans: Whenever possible, do not purchase a product that comes in an aerosol can. Aerosol cans utilize flurocarbons which are known to degrade the ozone layer of the atmosphere. The ozone layer protects the Earth from excessive ultraviolet radiation.
- Phosphorous: Read labels and choose low-phosphorous products. The Warning Caution or Danger Label on a can or bottle will be your best guide as to how potentially hazardous a product may be since precise labeling is not yet required for these items. In recent years, conservationists have become increasingly concerned about how phosphorous in chemicals and fertilizers increases eutrophication (See Handbook, Part IV Section D for more about eutrophication).
- Disposal: Most cleaners and detergents that are combined with water may be flushed away safely, and their containers, wrapped in plastic, can go into the garbage. Furniture and metal polishes, used batteries, oven cleaners, dyes, paints, lacquers, strippers, and automobile products should be handled according to directions and containers taken to a hazardous-waste site or recycling center (See Section XI). Putting any of this matter with your garbage will just pass on the hazard to someone else.
Any product used to help your garden grow will ultimately help the growth of weeds in the Lake. Please follow these guidelines:
- Herbicides and pesticides: Check all herbicides and pesticides for the presence of Carbaryl, also known as Sevin. This highly toxic substance, which is readily absorbed through the skin, is often recommended, especially for Gypsy Moths. Instead, the Cooperative Extension in Mahopac (845 628-0454) recommends BT, a bacterium that will not affect people or the Lake.
- Care of lawns and ground cover: Lawns are discouraged for two reasons. First, they provide less erosion control than naturally wooded areas. Second, a “good“ lawn often requires fertilizer. Homeowners with lawns are strongly encouraged to avoid applying fertilizer. The beautiful lawns promoted by fertilizer companies are contrary to the environmental needs of lakeside areas.
Still, if you do believe that your lawn requires fertilizer, use an organic fertilizer, particularly one low in phosphorous. As noted earlier, phosphorous is the key element in weed growth in lakes. Use a low concentration and keep all fertilizers off slopes to the Lake and at least 10 feet from the water’s edge. Lawn experts recommend leaving in the thatch and mowing high, between 2-1/2 to 3 inches, to keep out invaders such as crab grass. A yearly application of lime, which does not affect the Lake, will help a lawn’s acid-base balance.
- Disposal: Containers for water-soluble products should be flushed thoroughly, well-wrapped in plastic and disposed in the regular garbage. All other containers should be taken to a hazardous-waste dump. (See Handbook, Section XI).