You may have outgrown those sneakers with the flashing lights in their soles, but don’t toss them in the trash can – soon it will be illegal.New rules limiting what residents and small businesses can throw into the trash go into effect this week. Starting Thursday, it will be illegal to throw away products containing mercury or heavy metals, including batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, mercury thermometers – even greeting cards that play music when opened.Called “universal waste” because of their prevalence in both households and businesses, these products can decay over time and leak toxic chemicals into the soil and groundwater. Those sneakers with flashing lights, made before 1997, can contain mercury, a known neurotoxin.It is already illegal to throw away TV sets and computer monitors, but households and small businesses have been exempt from other parts of the universal waste regulations since 2002.Residents can take their waste to a hazardous waste collection event or one of five permanent collection centers run by the city of Los Angeles.Department of Toxic Substances Control officials say they are counting on voluntary cooperation with the law . They are focusing enforcement efforts on illegal dumping and egregious violations, said DTSC director Maureen Gorsen.Ron Baker, spokesman for the state agency, said he expects most people will cooperate.“Most Californians care for the environment if you tell them why you don’t want them to throw these things in the trash, because when mercury is allowed to re-enter the environment and gets in the water, and there are fish in the water and you eat the fish, you’re getting additional mercury,” Baker said.Joe Reilly, senior engineer with the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, said people seem to be cooperating with the existing laws on cathode ray tubes – that includes televisions and non-flat computer monitors.A hazardous waste roundup in Claremont over the weekend netted 800 cathode ray tube devices as well as 31,000 pounds of miscellaneous electronic waste, Reilly said.“People are definitely already used to it. They might learn the hard way too, if they put their (TVs) by the trash can and the trash collector won’t take it.”Here is a list of items banned from your trash can: Common batteries such as AA, AAA, C cells, D cells and button batteries. These may contain corrosive chemicals and toxic heavy metals. Fluorescent light bulbs and other mercury-containing lamps. Thermostats that contain mercury “tilt switches.” Electronic devices such as TVs, computers, computer monitors, printers, VCRs, cell phones, telephones, radios and microwave ovens. Some older washing machines, electric space heaters, clothes irons, or products containing electrical switches and relays. Mercury thermometers, barometers, blood pressure gauges and other mercury gauges. Novelties containing mercury, such as musical greeting cards and mercury maze games.For a complete list, visit the DTSC Web site at www.dtsc.ca.gov/HazardousWaste/UniversalWaste/index.cfm.Araceli Esparza contributed to this story. [email protected](626) 962-8811, Ext. 2306Bring household hazardous waste to the following locations: Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Rio Hondo College Fire Training Academy 11400 Greenstone Ave., Santa Fe Springs Feb. 18 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Gateway Corporate Center 1300 block of Bridge Gate Drive, Diamond Bar Feb. 25 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. El Monte Airport 4233 N. Santa Anita Ave., El Monte For more information, or for a list of permanent hazardous waste collection sites in Los Angeles, visit www.888CleanLa.com Or call 1(888)CLEAN LA AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!