How to Identify Waste and Determine if It Is Hazardous

When it comes to waste, how you dispose of it will depend heavily on whether or not it is hazardous. In order to make it easy to identify hazardous waste, here is a guide which should simplify the process.

Is the waste solid? Keep in mind that solid waste does not necessarily mean that the waste is in a solid state, chemically speaking. Gas, liquids, and solids can all be classified as solid waste. In short, solid waste means anything that is completely waste, which can no longer be used for its original purpose—in short, solid is waste is anything that is “entirely” or “solidly” waste. All hazardous waste is solid waste.

Is the waste exempt from hazardous waste regulations? There are some solid wastes, such as those from households and oils that can be recycled, that are not hazardous waste.

Is the waste hazardous in either a chemical or physical way? If the waste is not one of the “exempted” substances, is it dangerous? There are basically seven different ways to tell whether or not something is hazardous.

  1. F-listed – waste from “non-specific sources.”
  2. K-listed – waste from “specific sources,” and example being run off from iron and steel manufacturing
  3. P- and U-listed – chemicals that have not been used or have been thrown out, including containers that may have a residue or anything used to clean up a spill.
  4. Will it burn? If the flash point of a liquid is less than 140 degrees F, it is considered hazardous.
  5. Will it corrode? If the pH of a substance dissolved or suspended in water is less than 2 or more than 12.5 and can corrode steel, it is hazardous.
  6. Will it react? The production of fumes, instability, explosions, gas production, either when pressure or heat are applied or when wet, the substance is reactive and is hazardous.
  7. Is it toxic? Waste has to be analyzed by a laboratory in order to be deemed toxic, where it will be compared with known toxic substances. If it does match any toxicity standards, it will be deemed hazardous. Pesticides, water treatment substances, and organic manufacturing run-off are the most common kinds of toxic hazardous waste.

In order to determine whether or not the substance really is hazardous, a sample must be taken and testing performed. Most of the time, testing is necessary when a new manufacturing process is introduced, when there has not been proper disposal of waste in the past, when waste has been incorrectly identified in the past, and under certain EPA rules.

About Brickley Environmental

Brickley Environmental creates safe-and-sound schools, homes, and buildings by designing and executing safe, cost-effective containment, abatement and removal solutions. We do it right the first time — making your profits predictable while supporting your ethical standards and reputation for excellence — and have served Southern California for over 30 years.