More than 4.5 million hazardous material containers have been recovered from areas damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in southern Louisiana.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are participating in collecting the hazardous waste containers.

Since collection began in September 2005, more than 17 million pounds of hazardous waste has been recycled or properly disposed of to prevent future environmental and public health problems, according to the EPA.

Household hazardous materials include products such as bleach, propane, batteries, paints, solvents, pesticides, and fertilizers. Materials are collected by crews going house to house or are brought to collection centers by residents.

More than four million containers are categorized as "small," holding a few ounces or as many as 54 gallons.

In addition, more than 40,000 55-gal. drums, 45,000 propane tanks, 76,000 cylinders, and 6,400 larger containers containing hundreds to thousands of gallons of hazardous materials were collected.

As homes are gutted and demolished, the segregation of household hazardous waste ensures the proper disposal of the materials.

Residents are reminded about the importance of separating water-damaged, household hazardous materials, not using plastic garbage bags but placing them curbside, and keeping the materials away from water meters and fire hydrants.

For those areas of New Orleans where debris collection has stopped, household hazardous waste can be dropped off at any of three public sites located at 2301 Hendee Street, Crowder Road and I-10, or at 2829 Elysian Fields.