U.S. fire officials are urging homeowners to properly dispose of hazardous materials in their homes. These products are dangerous to the environment when disposed of improperly, officials say, and can make household fires more life-threatening.

“If you are not going to use it or are done with it,” said Lt. Matthew Lupo of the Rutherford County Fire Department in Tennessee, “we recommend you dispose of it properly.”

On Friday, March 16, a large-scale fire caused by an improperly disposed of lithium-ion battery forced the Long Island Rail Road in NYC to close for several hours. The fire spread from the battery to piles of cardboard and newspaper and required over 200 firefighters to put it out.

“It does accelerate fires,” sat Lt. Lupo of these hazardous materials, “and help them spread further, and release toxic fumes into the air when it’s ignited.”

Common hazardous materials found in the average American home include pesticides, adhesives, lithium and button batteries, aerosols, medications, swimming pool chemicals, paint thinner, fluorescent lamps, cleaning fluids, and brake fluid.

What’s more, the brake fluid used in up to 18% of American vehicles have been found to be low or even contaminated.

These everyday household products, fire officials say, may be toxic, corrosive, reactive, and flammable.

It’s for this reason that professional training is required of those drivers who ship over 3 billion tons of hazardous materials annually. Compared to the 17% of printed materials that are considered waste, hazardous waste requires proper storage and disposal to avoid toxic chemicals from being released into the environment.

To keep these hazardous materials from causing any more damage, many cities across the U.S. have begun offering at-home pickups for hazardous waste.

For instance, residents of Batavia, Illinois have been given the preliminary go-ahead to dispose of their hazardous products to the Naperville Household Hazardous Waste Facility.

New York City is also beginning to shift the burden of garbage collection from taxpayers to ratepayers to reduce pollution, encourage recycling, and prevent improper hazardous waste disposal.

The city hired Resource Recycling Systems (RRS), a consulting and research firm, in January to begin developing options for pay-as-you-throw billing. The program would give households in the Big Apple the financial incentive to recycle as an environmental turning point for the city.

A $1 million contract with RRS was recently approved by the New York Department of Sanitation.

Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said that up to 1,200 cities across the U.S. have similar programs in place the RRS may use as inspiration.

The garbage program, Garcia said, may be similar to New York City’s water charges. Up to 400 gallons of water are used by a family of four every day. However, the use of water dramatically decreased when water charges went up in NYC.

“They don’t take a half-an-hour shower,” said Garcia. “They don’t keep the water running while they’re brushing their teeth.”

The goal is similar to the garbage program. The focus, Garcia says, is to find the best method to incentivize New Yorkers to recycle and throw away their trash responsibly. A formal proposal for the program is expected to be developed within the following year.