Understanding the different types of hazardous waste is important when seeking solutions for dangerous materials generated in your business. The EPA defines four categories of hazardous waste, and each type poses different dangers and requires specific handling procedures and disposal methods.
Four Types of Hazardous Waste
The four categories of hazardous waste materials are:
- Toxic materials which are poisonous.
- Corrosive materials which can break-down other substances or cause rust.
- Ignitable wastes which are highly flammable and can burst into flame.
- Reactive materials which can explode violently.
Toxic hazardous waste materials are solid, liquid, or gaseous substances which can contaminate groundwater, posing long-term dangers to the health of people and the environment. Toxic wastes can also pose an immediate health threat if a person is exposed to the substance. Examples of toxic waste include:
- Pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides,
- medications, syringes, and needles,
- fluorescent lamps,
- brake fluid, antifreeze, and oil,
- glues, paint thinner, and solvents,
- heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury, lead, selenium, and silver,
- vinyl chloride and many other chemicals.
Corrosive hazardous wastes can eat-away at other materials, including the containers they are stored in, including steel. Corrosive waste includes any liquid of very high or very low pH levels. Examples of corrosive hazardous waste are hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and rust removers.
Ignitable hazardous waste can be a solid, gas, or liquid material with an ignition flash point of 140ºF (60ºC) or lower. This category includes gasoline, acetone, and compressed gases like acetylene.
Reactive hazardous waste are unstable substances which can explode or react violently, especially when mixed with water and those which release toxic gas when in the presence of water. Example of reactive waste are cyanide waste, ethers, and peroxides.
Removal and disposal of hazardous waste substances must be done by properly trained and certified personnel, according to EPA regulations. Improper handling of hazardous wastes is dangerous to people, animals, and property, and improper disposal of hazardous waste is illegal.