Due to the harmful effects they can have on human health and safety, as well as the surrounding environment, hazardous waste materials are highly regulated. When it comes to the management of these wastes, understanding the type of waste you have is vital.
Below are the major categories that all hazardous waste materials fall into.
This is any type of poisonous wastes that can cause harm or even death to humans and wildlife when inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin. Even though toxins can be found anywhere, including at home and inside office buildings, industrial activities are the largest source of toxic wastes.
Common types of toxic wastes include benzene, vinyl chloride, mercury, and lead.
How toxic waste is handled and managed depends on a variety of factors, including the form it takes. For example, agricultural soil that contains high concentrations of lead can be left in place and covered with hard clay instead of being excavated and dumped somewhere else.
This type of wastes will ignite when exposed to flame and can be an immediate fire hazard. Fires resulting from ignitable waste can inflict serious burns on people but also damage property and degrade the environment.
Many industrial wastes pose a fire hazard. Common types of ignitable wastes include liquid and non-liquid wastes such as oxidizers and flammable compressed gas. Each type of ignitable waste must be treated based on its ignitability characteristic.
The corrosivity characteristic is used to classify hazardous wastes based on their acidity or alkalinity. Corrosive wastes can readily corrode metal under certain conditions or dissolve flesh. The sulfuric acid found in automotive batteries is an example of such waste.
If the acid is inadequately handled and disposed of, it can result in serious injury and also contaminate the soil and underground water resources.
As the name suggests, reactive waste is a material that explodes or readily undergoes violent reactions under normal handling conditions or when exposed to water. Such waste poses an explosion hazard if not handled or discarded appropriately.
Common examples include explosives, sulfide-bearing wastes, and discarded munitions.
If you generate hazardous industrial waste, it's important to ensure the waste is disposed of the right way. Owing to the complex nature of solutions needed to collect, transport, treat, and dispose of hazardous waste materials properly, hazardous waste management has become a specialized discipline. Talk to a hazardous waste management company near you if you need help with your waste management needs.