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Tag Archive | "Kent County Department of Public Works"

Poison prevention week


Kent County encourages residents to safely dispose of unused hazardous materials during National Poison Prevention Week 

National Poison Prevention Week is March 17-23 and Kent County’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and (the Kent County) Health Department (KCHD) are encouraging community members to safely dispose of unused, potentially poisonous medicines, chemicals and used needles through the various SafeHomes programs, including SafeMeds, SafeChem and SafeSharps. 

“Through these collaborative programs, residents can safely dispose of hazardous products and keep their home safe without the dangers of misuse, accidental poisonings or environmental harm,” says Adam London, Administrative Health Officer at KCHD.  

“Kent County residents who take these preventative steps in their homes are protecting young children, loved ones, pets and the environment from hazardous materials.” 

Every year, America’s 55 poison centers receive millions of calls and the majority are about people coming into contact with dangerous or potentially dangerous substances, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. 

Through the SafeHomes programs, residents can safely dispose of unused or unneeded poisonous and hazardous materials. According to the Kent County DPW, a product is considered hazardous if it has one or more of the following properties:

Toxic – poisonous or lethal when ingested, touched or inhaled;

Flammable – ignitable and burns easily;

Corrosive – eats through materials and living tissue; or 

Reactive – can possibly explode or react with other chemicals;

Dangerous – poses health or injury risk to people, pets or the environment if not handled properly.

Examples of poisonous hazards may include detergents and cleaning supplies, medicines and pharmaceuticals, insect repellents, oils and fuel, batteries, needles and more. 

“Most landfills are not equipped to handle hazardous materials and placing them in the trash or down the drain could lead to injuries to waste handling personnel, fires or harm to the environment,” said Dar Baas, Director of the Department of Public Works. “We are committed to protecting public health through the responsible disposal of hazardous materials and we encourage residents to properly dispose of these materials when they are no longer needed.” 

There are SafeChem drop-off locations for home chemicals in Kentwood, Grand Rapids, Rockford and Wyoming. They are available for all Kent County residents to use at no cost. For hours and contact information, visit www.MIsafehomes.org. 
SafeMeds Program drop-off locations for prescription and over-the-counter medications include many local pharmacies and law enforcement agencies. These drop-off locations are for any resident to use at no cost. For more information, visit www.MIsafehomes.org. 

SafeSharps drop-off locations for used needles, lancets or other injection devices are at all KCHD clinics. These drop-off locations are for any Kent County resident to use at no cost. For more information, visit www.MIsafehomes.org.


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Propane tanks cause explosion at recycling center


An explosion at the Kent County Recycling Center last week was caused by three small propane tanks someone had tried to recycle. Photo courtesy Kent County.

Pictured are thethree small propane tanks someone had tried to recycle that are believed to be the cause of the fire. Photo courtesy Kent County.

By Judy Reed

Three small propane tanks, improperly disposed of, were the cause of an explosion inside a baler at the Kent County Recycling & Education Center at 977 Wealthy SW in Grand Rapids last Thursday morning, June 22.

According to Kristen Wieland, the Communications & Marketing Manager for the Kent County Department of Public Works, the explosion occurred at 7:45 a.m., shortly after they started up the sorting equipment for the day. Grand Rapids Fire Department was dispatched, and one Kent County staff person was taken for medical observation.

Grand Rapids Fire was called to the scene of this explosion at the Kent County Recycling Center last Thursday. Photo courtesy Kent County.

Wieland explained that there are a series of conveyor belts and other equipment that help move the recyclables through the plant. “The belts pass by 26 people around the plant who are each responsible for sorting specific materials. Fairly early in the sorting process, a strong magnet automatically pulls out ferrous metals. That’s where the propane tank would’ve gotten removed from the sorting line.

“The ferrous metals are dropped by the magnet into a storage area where they sit until we have a sufficient quantity to bale. Kent County staff was baling ferrous metals when the explosion occurred. Three of the one-pound propane tanks were found in the residue from the explosion,” she said.

“Though they’re considered disposable, small camping-style propane cylinders are not recyclable. With camping season upon us, it is critically important that these metal tanks be disposed of properly,” said Wieland.

Instead, propane tanks of all sizes should be brought for safe disposal to any of these locations:

  • South Kent Recycling & Waste Center, 10300 South Kent Drive, Byron Center
  • North Kent Recycling & Waste Center, 2908 Ten Mile Road, Rockford
  • Or any of Kent County’s SafeChem household hazardous waste drop off centers, listed at www.accesskent.com/waste.

Wieland added that it was nearly one year ago to the date of their last significant explosion though that one was less severe. A propane tank was also suspected as the cause of that incident.

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