Antifreeze Management for Individuals

What is it?

Antifreeze is used as an engine coolant in cars, trucks, boats, and buses. The main ingredient of antifreeze is usually ethylene glycol, an odorless, sweet-tasting chemical that poses a serious health hazard to human and animals if ingested.  Another coolant chemical in use is propylene glycol, which is considerably less toxic. Some products that contain propylene glycol are labeled non-toxic antifreeze.  Either type of antifreeze may contain lead following its use. Antifreeze may pollute groundwater, surface water and drinking water supplies if dumped, spilled or leaked. Animals have died from ingesting small amounts of antifreeze.

Hints for Handling Antifreeze

  • Reduce your exposure. When changing your antifreeze wear protective work clothing and splash-proof chemical goggles. If you do come into contact with antifreeze, wash the exposed parts of your body immediately. Do not leave open containers unattended.
  • When you change your antifreeze, use a drip pan and funnel to return it to its original container. If the original container is not available, the new container should be made of plastic and have a twist top. The storage container should be labeled with the date and identity of the waste.
  • Recycle waste antifreeze. Check with your town recycling center to see if it is permitted to accept waste antifreeze for recycling. If your town cannot accept the waste antifreeze, take it to a household hazardous waste collection center or wait for a local household hazardous waste collection day.
  • Used antifreeze should never be dumped down a drain, in the sewer or on the ground.

Content Last Updated October 2019