Saturday, September 24, 2011

Hazardous Waste Treatment and Recycling

 By Patrick Sharple 

Hazardous waste is any waste that poses a substantial threat to the environment or the health of the public and generally has at least one of three characteristics; ignitable, oxidizing, corrosive, toxic, or radioactive. Toxic waste has also been defined as having the potential to cause or contribute to an increase in death or serious irreversible illness. It may also pose a hazard to a person's health or the environment when improperly handled. Hazardous or toxic waste encompasses all toxic chemicals including radioactive, biological, and infectious waste.

Where does it come from?
Most waste is derived from companies and some portion comes from homes. Hazardous toxic waste can contain one or more of 39 carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic chemicals which have levels exceeding established limits. This includes many solvents, pesticides, and paint strippers. Some waste is extremely flammable like; gasoline, paint, and many solvents. Some is reactive or unstable and may explode or release dangerous fumes like; acids, bases, ammonia, and chlorine. Some toxic waste is corrosive to metal like; cleaning agents, oven and drain cleaners.

Many businesses produce toxic waste, such as; metal finishers, gas stations, and dry cleaners. These hazardous by-products of their business include sulfuric acid, heavy metals from batteries, waste that contains silver that comes from places like printers, hospitals, dentists, doctors, and veterinarians. Paint manufacturing yields heavy metals, solvents, and contaminated wastewater. The process of developing photos can create organic chemicals, compounds from chromium, phosphates, and ammonium compounds. Another common waste is cyanide which results from electroplating. Other places that toxic waste comes from are; auto repair shops, exterminators, chemical manufacturers, and oil refineries.

Types of Hazardous Waste and How it is Handled
In the United States, facilities that treat, store, or dispose of toxic waste must have a permit to do so under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Currently the United States Environmental Protection Agency regulates how waste is managed. The EPA has designed very strict regulations for the management of waste including; treating, storing, and disposing of.

In America we classify toxic waste into 2 categories; listed or characteristic. Listed waste is listed on one of the four hazardous waste lists either; F,K,P, or U. A characteristic waste will have at least one of the four characteristics of hazardous waste; flammable, reactive, toxic, or corrosive.
Listed waste is generated by very specific industries and is always considered hazardous based on the process by which they are generated. It is also based on whether a test from the waste displays any of the characteristics of hazardous waste. Some types of listed wastes are:
o sludge leftover from electroplating
o waste from the manufacturing of iron and steel
o cleaning or degreasing process wastes

The F-list of toxic waste
The F-list is compiled of waste from common manufacturing methods like; solvents for cleaning or degreasing. The F-list encompasses waste from sources.

The K-List of hazardous waste
This list includes waste from certain industries like; petroleum refining or the making of pesticide. These industries produce sludge and wastewater from the treatment and during the production process. The K-List encompasses hazardous toxic waste that is source-specific.

The P-List and the U-List - Discarded Wastes
Wastes included in the P and U lists are produced from commercial chemical products that are deemed hazardous when they are discarded. P-List wastes are considered to be "acutely hazardous" when they are disposed of and have strict regulations. An example of a P-list waste is Nitric Oxide. U-list wastes are also deemed hazardous when disposed of but these wastes do not have as strict regulations as P-list wastes.

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