Non-toxic RV antifreeze is the first thing you will need to winterize your RV to prevent the water system from freezing and bursting. But how do you properly dispose of RV antifreeze? Some companies label it as non-toxic. So, can RV antifreeze be dumped on the ground? Or should it be dumped on RV dump stations? Can you dump it on any sewer system?
You should not dump RV antifreeze on the ground, even if it is non-toxic and biodegradable. As it is a still chemical material, dumping RV antifreeze on the ground can be harmful to the environment on many levels. Some materials used in RV antifreeze are flammable too. Usually, governments provide a guideline on disposal methods of all types of RV antifreeze.
You should be cautious about dumping chemical wastes as you can be in legal trouble if you are caught dumping them in the wrong places. To know how to properly dispose of RV antifreeze, I suggest you go through the entire article.
Can RV Antifreeze Be Dumped On The Ground?
It is inadvisable to dump RV antifreeze on the ground, even if it is the safest one which is propylene glycol or pink RV antifreeze. The ethanol-based and the ethanol/propylene blend-based RV antifreeze are more toxic than the relatively safe propylene-based one, and certainly should not be dumped on the ground.
To understand this better, you must know the levels of toxicity found in the materials used in various types of RV antifreeze.
The general opinion is that the toxic RV antifreeze is usually green in color and the non-toxic one is pink-colored, usually made of propylene glycol. Well, it can be true for the majority of cases, but still, you can’t know if a chemical material is toxic or not only by its color.
No matter what type of RV antifreeze it is, the disposal of any chemical material should be handled with discretion.
How to Properly Dispose of RV Antifreeze?
Remember the three R’s- reduce, reuse and recycle.
In short, firstly don’t buy an excessive amount of RV antifreeze. And even then if you have some extra bottle, give it to someone else who needs it or use it somewhere else. If that option is also unavailable then find a facility which may dispose of it for you or recycle it.
Steps to properly dispose of RV antifreeze
Step 1: Reusability of RV antifreeze
Use the extra RV antifreeze on other vehicles if it is compatible. Ask the manufacturers of the vehicle about the compatibility before using it. Or you can use it on your home plumbing system.
Moreover, there are some techniques of regaining the lost antifreeze properties of RV antifreeze such as filtering and adding some additives. Talk to your antifreeze manufacturer company if they can do it for you.
You can also purchase glycol reprocessing or distillation equipment by contacting waste management associations if that option is made available by your government.
Step 2: Find out a facility which can recycle RV antifreeze
There are some commercial companies which recycle RV antifreeze for money. Contact your local waste management facilities if they can give you information on RV antifreeze recyclers.
Step 3: Find out a facility which can dispose of RV antifreeze safely for you
Call your RV manufacturer and ask if they can dispose of RV antifreeze. Some automotive service stations or parts stores can dispose of RV antifreeze safely. Some facilities can give it to the recyclers for you.
They may charge you some fees.
It is inadvisable to dump waste RV antifreeze down the sewer or drain. It can destroy the bacteria needed for sewage treatment and pollute ground and surface waters.
Why Should You Not Dump Antifreeze On The Ground?
Firstly, the levels of toxicity of propylene glycol are up for debate. Though this non-flammable material is termed GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by FDA- the US Food and Drug Administration if ingested a small amount, cases of its toxicity on humans, plants and animals have been found.
Management of waste RV antifreeze is usually governed by state law. You must follow the government’s guideline of hazardous chemical material disposal even if your RV antifreeze company is selling it as non-toxic, biodegradable and environmentally safe chemical material.
Here are the reasons why propylene glycol antifreeze can be toxic to the environment:
It can contaminate groundwater
Propylene glycol is water-soluble. Disposing of it on the ground can result in contamination of groundwater and surface of the land. This material can be poisonous for fish, marine animals, land animals and humans.
It can melt permafrost
Improper disposal of RV antifreeze can be the cause of the melting of permafrost, the frozen ground. Melting of permafrost can make building foundations weak.
Decrease of dissolved oxygen level in the water
Due to the high solubility of propylene glycol in water, it is quickly metabolized by organisms and microbes. Thus the biodegradation process starts at once when PG comes in contact with water.
The oxygen used up in this process quickly decreases the dissolved oxygen
(DO) levels in the host water reservoirs. The decreased DO in water can harm aquatic and marine life.
So if you dump RV antifreeze on the ground and it travels to water reservoirs around your locality, then the water environment around you can be harmed.
It can be the cause of hematologic or blood-related problems in cats and dogs
Propylene glycol can cause hemolysis in both cats and dogs at different levels of dosage. If you dump a large amount of PG on the ground, it can go into the systems of these animals and can harm them.
It can be the cause of lactic acidosis and metabolic acidosis in humans if ingested in large amounts
If you have a child in your home or someone who can accidentally ingest large amounts of PG antifreeze, you should be extremely careful about handling the chemical material.
Propylene glycol can be promptly metabolized into lactic acid inside the human body which causes high lactate levels in the blood, a fatal adverse effect of PG in the human body known as lactic acidosis. It can also cause metabolic acidosis.
Both disorders have symptoms including CNS (central nervous system) effects such as seizures, lethargy, unresponsiveness to pain and coma.
It can cause chlorosis in grass and plants
Vapors of PG can be toxic to soybeans and corn. In recent scientific studies, the gas from PG vapors can cause chlorosis, which results in an abnormal loss of the natural green color of leaves, and then necrosis, which means cellular death.
How Do Toxic RV Antifreeze Affect the Environment?
Ethanol or Ethylene Glycol is also used in automotive antifreeze. Both ethanol or ethylene glycol and ethanol/propylene blend are very flammable, so dumping it on the ground will be very dangerous.
Both of them can contaminate groundwater if released in the land as EG is miscible with water and can easily leach through soil to groundwater.
Both of the materials also reduce plant growth, can cause sterile pollen and decrease seed count.
Both EG and EG/propylene blend are toxic to humans if ingested as it can quickly metabolize into glycolic acid and then oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is toxic to humans.
EG is extremely dangerous for cats and dogs. A table of EG can cause severe acute kidney failure in dogs and can kill cats with as little as a teaspoon of it. It is more lethal because the sweet taste of ethanol or ethylene glycol attracts animals to eat it.
Hope you have got a clear idea on the disposal of RV antifreeze. Now ask the question to yourself- can RV antifreeze be dumped on the ground? I think you will get a pretty clear answer on your own, now that you are educated on the topic.
Thanks for stopping by and good luck to you!