It’s important to change out your RV’s antifreeze fluid at the recommended frequency for your vehicle. But how do you get rid of RV antifreeze when it’s time to change the vehicle’s fluids?
RV antifreeze should never be dumped on the ground. Even if labeled as being biodegradable, it is still chemical waste. Dumping RV antifreeze on the ground harms the environment and can lead to legal consequences.
So let’s get into how to safely and responsibly (and legally) dispose of your RV antifreeze.
What If My Antifreeze Is Labeled As Non-toxic?
There are several types of RV antifreeze that vary in toxicity level. However, even the safest kind of antifreeze should be disposed of properly, rather than dumped on the ground.
The more toxic antifreeze is ethanol-based, including the ethanol/propylene blend RV antifreeze. The inclusion of ethanol makes these more toxic than the relatively safe propylene-based one. Any antifreeze made with ethanol should definitely not be dumped on the ground.
Propylene Glycol Antifreeze
Propylene glycol, also known as pink RV antifreeze, is the less toxic type and is labeled as a biodegradable antifreeze. However, it is not harmless and should be disposed of properly. If improperly disposed of, propylene glycol has the potential to contaminate groundwater, and cause problems in water facilities.
How Can I Tell What Kind Of Antifreeze I’m Using?
Most people who know antifreeze will tell you that if your antifreeze is green, it’s toxic; if it’s pink, it’s probably non-toxic. This can be a helpful general rule, but there is an exception to every rule and you should never rely just on color when identifying potentially toxic chemicals.
Regardless of what kind of antifreeze you’re getting rid of, toxic or ‘non-toxic,’ it should still be disposed of properly and handled safely.
How To Properly Dispose Of RV Antifreeze
Some companies label their antifreeze as non-toxic. However, just because it’s labeled as non-toxic doesn’t mean it is harmless. So, can you dump RV antifreeze on the ground? When it comes to RV antifreeze, it’s best to say no.
So if you can’t dump it on the ground, how do you get rid of your used RV antifreeze. There are many facilities, run by the state and by private companies, that are set up to help you safely dispose of any even recycle your old RV antifreeze.
When dealing with antifreeze, as with most things, it’s easiest and safest to say: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
The first step to making RV antifreeze disposal simple is reducing the amount of antifreeze you buy. If you like to buy extra, antifreeze can be stored indefinitely if stored in its original container.
However, antifreeze can go bad if it is improperly stored or is cross-contaminated with gasoline or oil. Even with this small chance for antifreeze to go bad, it should be put to use sooner rather than later.
Consider giving your extra antifreeze to a neighbor who needs it. Some RV owners even give their excess antifreeze to facilities that are able to safely dispose of the fluid.
Because RV antifreeze is generally considered non-toxic, it is often used to winterize home and RV water pipes for winter. Even used RV antifreeze can be effective. Not only are you able to reuse your old antifreeze efficiently, but you are able to avoid having to buy more.
Some companies and state waste management facilities will recycle RV antifreeze. Your state website will be able to tell you what waste management facilities will be able to dispose of used antifreeze.
While automotive stores will not dispose of your used RV antifreeze for you, mechanics occasionally have the contact information for facilities that are equipped to recycle your antifreeze for you.
Why Should You Not Dump RV Antifreeze On The Ground?
Firstly, there is still a good amount of debate around how toxic or non-toxic propylene glycol actually is. Though this antifreeze is labeled GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by FDA, there is evidence from cases demonstrating its toxicity.
Many states have laws governing the management of RV antifreeze waste. Even if you aren’t put off by the chemical’s potential toxicity, it is still important to abide by state and local laws for chemical waste disposal.
RV-ers should be aware of their local government’s guidelines for hazardous chemical waste disposal since all antifreeze waste is chemical waste. Therefore, even if your RV antifreeze is labeled as non-toxic, environmentally safe, and biodegradable, it should still be disposed of properly.
Because there are state and local guidelines on how to dispose of antifreeze, there are potential legal consequences for dumping RV antifreeze waste on the ground. Beyond that, there are several hazardous effects that propylene glycol antifreeze can have on the environment.
Propylene glycol is water-soluble and is not absorbed by the soil. These two factors combined mean RV antifreeze is particularly adept at draining through soil and leaching into groundwater reservoirs. There is strong evidence that it is poisonous for fish and other marine animals, land animals, and humans.
Permafrost, permanently frozen ground, is important for structural stability and building foundations, especially in northern regions. Improperly disposed of RV antifreeze can cause permafrost to melt, thereby 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.
Chlorosis in Crops
Propylene glycol vapors can cause chlorosis, the unhealthy loss of green color, in soybeans and corn. Chlorosis can lead to necrosis, or cellular death, in these essential crops.
Is RV Antifreeze Harmful For Pets?
Propylene glycol can cause hemolysis, the rupture of red blood cells, in cats and dogs. Pets are especially good at getting into things they shouldn’t, and dumped antifreeze is no exception. If ingested, dumped antifreeze can harm pets, as well as any local wildlife that ingests the chemical waste.
Can I Dump Used Antifreeze Into The Sewer?
It is generally not recommended to dump RV antifreeze down the sewer or drain. Some sources recommend diluting the antifreeze before disposing of it, but the chemical retains the ability to potentially kill helpful bacteria needed for sewage treatment.
It is best for yourself, your pets, your property, and your community to safely and responsibly dispose of RV antifreeze waste. Not only is dumping used antifreeze illegal in many states, but it is also not helpful, and potentially harmful for the environment. Therefore, it is best to find a safe way to recycle your used RV antifreeze fluid.