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Missoula Valley Water Quality District
(406) 258-4890
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Missoula Valley Water Quality District

Department: Water Quality District
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Water Quality District - Hazardous Waste

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Fire Extinguishers

What Are They?

The most common household fire extinguisher is the ABC type in a red cylinder, which typically contains 5 pounds of extinguishing agent. Another type of fire extinguisher, common years ago but now banned, contains a chemical extinguishing agent, carbon tetrachloride. These carbon tetrachloride fire extinguishers are usually either a manual pump or a glass bulb intended to be thrown into a fire releasing the chemical extinguishing agent.

What Makes Them Hazardous?

The contents of today’s common fire extinguishers are not hazardous. However, they are still a cylinder under pressure, which pose a disposal issue, because they have the potential to explode and cause serious injuries to sanitation workers, damage waste hauling vehicles, or waste processing facilities.

The older fire extinguishers containing carbon tetrachloride are hazardous to human health and the environment. Carbon tetrachloride is very toxic, and when used on a fire also results in a toxic gas.

Safety Notes

Disposal Options


The Residential Disposal Guide is provided by the Missoula Valley Water Quality District as a public service and is not an endorsement of specific businesses, services or products. Any omissions or inaccuracies are unintentional. Please contact us with corrections or additions. Call businesses or agencies to confirm hours, locations and charges for services, if any. For information on disposal of items not listed, email or call the Water Quality District at 406-258-4890, M - F, 8 am to 5 pm.

Much of the information provided is from the Washington County, MN, Dept. of Public Health and Environment website.

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