An Introduction To Hazardous Waste Identification
Many different industries, businesses, and institutions produce various forms of waste all the time. The dumping of hazardous waste must be correct to ensure the health and safety of the public and the environment. This means all waste must be scrutinized heavily to identify which items are hazardous. There are several steps that go into this identification process. Because the process can seem a bit intimidating when you’re first learning to identify hazardous waste, it helps to have a reliable guide. For an introduction to hazardous waste identification, read below.
Determine if the Waste Is a Solid
The first place that this process begins involves determining whether the material you’re dealing with is a waste. If you have material that does not officially classify as waste, then it definitely cannot be categorized as hazardous waste. Trying to figure out if a material is considered waste can be confusing because some materials can be thrown away or recycled. To work through this confusion, the Environmental Protection Agency developed a helpful guide of regulations to assist you in determining whether your material is a waste or not.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the framework for the management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste. The RCRA defines waste by the term “solid waste,” whether the material is a solid or semisolid. Solid waste is defined as any form of garbage, including sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility. This material could be a result of industrial, commercial, mining, or agricultural operations, or community activities.
What this shows is that everything we do leaves some kind of waste behind as a result. There are several materials excluded from solid waste regulations. This happens for several reasons, including public policy, economic impacts, regulations by other laws, or a lack of data. This may also apply if the waste is unfeasible to regulate.
Determine if It’s Excluded From RCRA Regulations
There are many different types of waste that are produced from many different types of operations. However, it’s usually only a small percent of this waste that is deemed hazardous. As we mentioned above, the regulation of some wastes is impractical, unfair, or undesirable, which has led the EPA to create certain exclusions. A good example of this situation is household wastes. Many household wastes contain dangerous chemicals, such as solvents and pesticides, but aren’t subject to the RCRA’s strict waste management regulations on account of the practical problems it would create.
Checking the list of additional examples of waste that is excluded from these regulations will help you answer whether you actually have hazardous waste on your hands. Some of these examples include agricultural waste, fossil fuel combustion waste, oil, gasoline, geothermal waste, injected groundwater, and trivalent chromium wastes. It’s wise to research the RCRA exclusion list further to confirm whether the waste in question is exempt or not.
If you should find that the material you’re handling does not make the hazardous waste list, you can most likely discard it with normal trash. While this process may seem a bit tedious and involved, it is always safest for the public and the environment. If you’re having trouble categorizing an item, there is always the option of treating any unknown substance as if it is hazardous, as this will ensure the protection of the outside world.
Check if the Waste Is Listed as Hazardous
An introduction to hazardous waste identification requires the two previous steps to come to this point. The EPA has done a lot of work studying various waste streams and developing special lists to categorize wastes appropriately. There is a total of four lists, each of which you should be familiar with.
The F-list is a group of spent solvents, electroplating or metal finishing wastes, dioxin-bearing wastes, and chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons. This list also includes wood preserving wastes, petroleum refinery wastewater treatment sludges, and multisource leachate. These are known as wastes from non-specific sources. Many of these tend to come from manufacturing and industrial processes.
Next is the K-list. Unlike the subsequent P-list, this list designates specific solid wastes from specific sources. The other two lists are the P-list and the U-list, which include common commercial chemical products that are unused but still require disposal. Some examples of these chemicals include benzopyran, warfarin, acetamide, acetyl, acrolein, and allyl alcohol. The P-list covers acute hazardous wastes, which are those that pose a threat to human health and the environment even when they are correctly managed. They also include nearly every form of dioxin-bearing waste. All other items that are non-acute but are still hazardous are on the U-list.
Examine if It Exhibits Hazardous Characteristics
You need to check your waste to see if it displays any of the following characteristics. Ignitable materials can create fires due to being spontaneously combustible or having a flash point lower than 60 degrees Celsius. These items can be solids or liquids. Solids have the possibility of being ignited under standard temperatures and pressures through friction, moisture absorption, or spontaneous chemical changes.
Corrosivity refers to acids and bases that have the ability to corrode metal containers. This can include storage drums, tanks, and barrels, so you need to consistently check these items. You can typically experience skin damage if you’re exposed to corrosives without the proper protection.
Wastes that carry reactive properties are very dangerous because of their instability under normal conditions. These materials are capable of causing explosions and releasing toxic fumes, gases, or vapors if they are heated, compressed, or mixed in water. Some even have the ability to explode when mixed with water.
Wastes that are deemed toxic are any substances that are poisonous or fatal to a person if ingested or absorbed. Toxic waste is incredibly hazardous if it’s disposed of with normal garbage in a landfill because it can get into the soil. From the soil, it can get into groundwater until it eventually makes its way into our drinking water.
By working with a waste management service, your company is assured to properly identify hazardous waste. Clean Management Environmental Group is a leading company with top experts to solve your hazardous and non-hazardous waste issues. With services available nationwide, you are sure to find a Clean Management, Inc. specialist near your business.