Petroleum spills (fuel oil, gasoline, etc.) should be reported to the Ohio EPA, and a 911 call should be placed as soon as possible in case of any spill or release of 25 gallons or more, and any amount of petroleum that causes a film or sheen on a waterway. Petroleum spills of any amount which threaten a waterway should be reported, and spills of unknown quantities should be reported.
Used motor oil or other automotive fluids may not be dumped on the ground, into a waterway, or into a storm sewer, and if this is done it is a violation of the county health nuisance regulation. Small amounts of fluid leaking from an automobile are not a violation. Unlabeled drums containing materials suspected of being hazardous should be left alone, and reported to the Ohio EPA.
Household hazardous waste may be disposed of with the regular trash, provided the waste hauler will accept it, but recycling is the preferred option. Visit the Clermont County Office of Environmental Quality for information about recycling.
Asbestos, radon, and mercury are not regulated by Clermont County Public Health, but some information is provided below.
Asbestos is an incombustible, chemical–resistant, naturally occurring fibrous mineral which has been used to strengthen a variety of products, and provide fire resistance. Breathing airborne asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma over the long term (20 to 30 years), especially when combined with smoking.
Older homes may have asbestos containing materials in them, particularly in ceiling tiles, floor tiles, and pipe insulation. Asbestos-containing materials that are in good condition are best left alone. Damaged asbestos containing materials can be repaired by sealing or covering, or they can be removed. Removal should be a last resort.
Generally, single family dwellings and residential properties having no more than four units are exempt from the asbestos regulations. A business entity that engages in asbestos abatement activities must be licensed as an Asbestos Hazard Abatement Contractor. The identification and assessment of asbestos-containing materials must be performed by a state certified Asbestos Hazard Evaluation Specialist.
The asbestos regulations can be found at the Ohio EPA website. Certification and licensing requirements for contractors and workers can be found at the Ohio Department of Health. Also, visit the U.S. EPA for more information about asbestos.
Radon is a tasteless, odorless, radioactive gas which emanates from the ground, and may enter a home through cracks in the floor or foundation. Radon gas can collect and concentrate in the home. Radon levels and the risk of indoor exposure to radon can be reduced by sealing cracks and increasing ventilation in the home.
Radon can be tested in the home with radon test kits available in hardware stores, or a state certified contractor can be hired to test for radon. Public Health does not provide radon test kits.
Breathing radon gas can cause lung cancer over the long term, especially when combined with smoking, but there are no short-term health effects. There is a low risk of exposure to radon in Clermont County. Nationally, the average indoor radon level is about 1.3 picocuries per liter (pCi/L). The action level is 4 pCi/L.
Metallic mercury produces a large amount of mercury vapor when it is unconfined, or spilled. A mercury spill from a broken thermometer can contaminate an entire house if it’s tracked around, and isn’t cleaned up properly. Spilled metallic mercury will give off vapors for many years. Long-term exposure to high levels of mercury vapor, as well as other mercury compounds, can cause irreversible damage to the brain, kidneys, or a developing fetus.
Small mercury spills, such as from a residential thermostat switch or fever thermometer, can be cleaned up by the homeowner. Follow the steps for cleanup on the Ohio Department of Health website for “Small Mercury Spills”. Pregnant women and children should be evacuated from a mercury spill site immediately.
If the mercury has already been vacuumed, tracked to other parts of the house, or the spill has otherwise been extended beyond the initial spill location call the Ohio EPA spill hotline. Schools should always call the Ohio EPA spill hotline, and a mercury clean-up contractor. Businesses in which a mercury spill has occurred must contact a hazardous waste recycling company to dispose of mercury-contaminated items.
In order to reduce the risk of accidental exposure to metallic mercury, mercury thermometers and mercury switches should be replaced with mercury-free products.