Hazardous Waste

What Counts as Hazardous Waste?

  • Specific Industries and Waste.
  • Hazardous Waste Generators and Transporters Requirements.
  • Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Requirements.
  • RCRA State Authorization
  • Resources

Hazardous waste contains harmful or dangerous waste that effects the environment or human health. There is a huge universe of diverse hazardous waste. Hazardous waste comes in the forms of liquids, sludge, contained gas and solids. They can be simple discarded manufactured products including pesticides, cleaning fluids or by products of production process's. There are four hazardous waste lists and four characteristics. The waste list is F, K,P, and U and the characteristics are corrosivity, reactivity, toxicity and ignitability. These are the regulatory terms under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). You can visit the RCRA Laws and Regulations for more information.

Listed Wastes

The EPA, defined some wastes as hazardous specifically and are incorporated into published lists. These lists are categorized into three.

F-LIST is hazardous waste that comes from un-specified sources as a result of manufacturing process's and industry like cleaning fluid containing solvents. These wastes are produced from different area's of industry which is why they are known as non-specific. These wastes are on the F-LIST in the regulations at 40 CFR §261.31.

K-LIST is waste from specific sources and industries that include pesticide production and petrol refineries. Waste water and some sludge's that are derived from production processes and treatments in these industry areas are source specific hazardous waste. The K-LIST is kept in the regulations at 40 CFR §261.32.

P-LIST and U-LIST contain specified chemical products discarded or unused through commercial production. For an example some discarded pharmaceutical products are classed as hazardous waste. The P-LIST and U-List's are kept in the regulations at40 CFR §261.33 Hazardous Waste Lists Reference Document drafted March 2008 in PDF form (118 pp, 612K)

Characteristic Wastes

If waste contains characteristics of the four definitions above but does not fit onto a list then it is still classed as hazardous waste. The definitions are kept in 40 CFR part 261 sub- section C ignitability( D001) corrosivity (D002) reactivity (DOO3) and toxicity (DO43)

Ignitability Ignitable wastes are highly flammable, or have a flash point (the lowest temperature it can vaporise to create an ignitable misture) less than 60 °C (140 °F) and can self ignite and explode violently. Examples of ignitable wastes are solvents and oils. For more information, see 40 CFR §261.21. Testing methods to establish the level of ease a material can be ignited, include the Pensky-Martens Closed-Cup Method for Determining Ignitability (Method 1010A) (PDF) (1 pg, 19K), the Setaflash Closed-Cup Method for Determining Ignitability (Method 1020B) (PDF) (1 pg, 17K) , and the Ignitability of Solids (Method 1030) (PDF) (13 pp, 116K).

Corrosive ability Corrosive waste is usually a form of bases or acid. (with a pH less than or equal to 2, or higher than or equal to 12.5) that can corrode metal containers, drums, barrels, and storage tanks. Battery acid is a prime example of corrosive waste. For more information, see 40 CFR §261.22 . To determine the depth of corrosive damage towards steel (Method 1110A) (PDF) (6 pp, 37K) is used.

Reactivity Reactivity means waste that is unpredictable in usual conditions. Reactive waste can cause fumes and explosions or create dangerous vapors or gasses when compressed, heated, or put with water. An example of products containing reactive waste are chemically unstabel lithium-sulfur batteries and explosives. For more information, see 40 CFR §261.23 . No testing methods are available at the moment.

Toxicity Toxic wastes can be fatal and harmful when absorbed or ingested, especially anything that contains mercury or lead, etc. When toxic wastes are dumped on land the contaminated liquid can leak and pollute any ground water. Toxicity is defined through a procedure carried out in a laboratory called the Toxicity Characteristic Leaking Procedure (TCLP) (Method 1311) (PDF) (35 pp, 288K). The TCLP helps to clarify which wastes are highly likely to leak contaminated concentrated liquid that could be harmful or fatal to the environment and humans. For more information, see 40 CFR §261.24.

Hazardous Waste Generators and Transporters, and the generators of transporters of hazardous waste must meet specific requirements for handling, managing, and tracking waste:

Storage, Treatment and Disposal Requirements

Through the RCRA and congress directed the EPA to develop regulations of hazardous waste management from "the cradle to the grave." Under this mandate, the EPA produced strict requirements for all aspects of managing hazardous waste including the storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous waste. In addition to these federal requirements some US states could develop stricter requirements or requirements with a broader in scope than the federal regulations.

Useful Resources

Hazardous Waste Management in Your Community is a collection of fact sheets that provide an overview of The EPA's hazardous waste management program under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

RCRA: Reducing the Risk from Hazardous Waste is a document providing information of the RCRA solid and hazardous waste regulations. It provides the history behind the RCRA, the role of EPA and the US states, and hazardous waste definitions and management requirements, including the roles of generators, transporters, and treatment, storage, and disposal facilities. The document also gives information on minimizing hazardous waste, and discusses industrial and municipal solid waste as well.

RCRA Orientation Manual - is a document with multi chapters providing preliminary information on the management of hazardous and solid waste programs under the RCRA. It has been created for the EPA and members of the state staff of the regulated community, and the public in general who want to learn more about the RCRA. This document constitutes a review of the RCRA program and is not intended as a substitute for RCRA stature or its implementing regulations.

RCRA Training Modules - The RCRA Call Center training modules provide an overview of specific regulatory topics including air emissions standards, hazardous waste recycling, exclusions, financial assurance, hazardous waste storage units, and many others. These modules are useful resources for people wishing to gain a general understanding of RCRA, however, they are not comprehensive sources of regulatory information.

RCRA Frequent Questions Database - This database enables users to search frequently asked questions, or submit their own question or comment, on a variety of RCRA issues and topics.

RCRA Online is a database that indexes memorandums, publications, letters, and any questions and answers provided by the EPA's Office of Solid Waste (OSW). This database represents the past EPA Headquarters interpretations of the RCRA regulations governing the management of solid, medical and hazardous waste..

RCRA In Focus Series - This collection of publications provides information of the RCRA regulations affecting specific industry sectors including , photo processing, dry cleaning, and printing etc. RCRA In Focus presents the life process of a typical waste for each separate industry and concentrates on recycling and pollution prevention options and ideas. Each separate issue has a table of RCRA requirements for small businesses with frequently asked questions and answers.

Hazardous Waste Data - This Web site provides links to RCRA Information and other important EPA data tracking systems for hazardous waste generation, storage, treatment, and disposal information. Also included are links to the National Biennial