In the United States, we create over 1.6 million tons of hazardous waste per year.
This means every household produces around 30 pounds a year. Add businesses to that and it is easy to see why so much hazardous waste exists. If you’re dealing with hazardous waste, learning the types of hazardous waste is essential.
With any hazardous waste, there are inherent dangers. Don’t risk your health or safety interacting with a hazardous substance you don’t understand.
What Is Hazardous Waste
Hazardous waste is any substance that you can come into contact with which has negative health impacts. Hazardous waste is also defined as containing organic compounds which will cause a negative impact on the environment as well. There are more examples in your home than you might imagine liquid waste disposal.
For instance, common household cleaning chemicals are often designated as hazardous waste. For businesses, you can expand this definition and include provisions for dangerous packaging as well. This is true of aerosols where improper disposal can lead to serious injury or death.
Types of Hazardous Waste
There are four types of hazardous waste that everyone should know about. These substances can appear on a regular basis in almost every area of our lives. From caustic solutions to chemicals, we must always be aware of our surroundings and what may harm us.
To shed some light on this subject, let’s first take a look at the four types of hazardous waste. Hazardous waste categories are broad, remember each substance has its own properties so practice safe hazardous clean-up at all times.
1. Liquid Waste
Any hazardous substance in liquid form falls into this category. This can range from bleach and other household cleaners to radioactive dyes. The problem with liquids is that some hazardous liquids are able to enter through the skin, and others can leach into groundwater.
The potential for environmental pollution with hazardous liquids is high. If proper hazmat services aren’t employed the entire ecosystem around the spill can suffer. This is why proper management of hazardous liquid materials is essential.
Liquids can also mask the presence of different types of hazardous waste. Whether this is agricultural runoff or other, solid and gas forms of hazardous waste. Once hazardous waste gets into the water it can be impossible to detect without formal testing of the water in question.
2. Solid Waste
While solids don’t disappear into the environment as liquids, they are no less dangerous. Solid waste can come in many forms, often evaporating dangerous chemicals like lye and various acids that become solid over time. A big danger in solid waste is that it can become airborne as particulate matter.
This poses the danger of breathing in harmful substances. Professional clean-up services avoid this danger by wearing respirators. If you have to clean up solid, hazardous waste, always remember to wear a mask or facial covering of some type.
Solid waste is often left behind by industrial operations and in areas where mining is popular. If you interact with waste in this way, make sure to seek out medical attention. Solid waste can also lead to a low level, prolonged exposure which can have significant health impacts later on in life.
3. Sludge Waste
Sludge is what occurs when a chemical either breaks down solid materials. Sludge is not appealing, and cleanup can be dangerous. Sludge can begin as any type of waste and the mixture of adding dirt, or other solids is sometimes done to limit the danger the original chemical poses.
The level of danger posed by sludge is dependent upon what types of hazardous chemicals created it. Often acids produce sludges when left untreated over time, and this can be among the most dangerous sludges you’ll encounter. Not only will you receive burns, but the material can cake onto your skin.
As with any waste, you must remember the danger posed by fumes and odorless toxic gasses. Sludge can very often begin to emit a lot of vapor, especially as part of the chemical process turning it into sludge. If this happens seek professional help and make sure you have appropriate safety equipment.
4. Contained Gasses
Perhaps the most dangerous and difficult to deal with hazardous waste is gaseous waste. As long as the gas remains contained, there isn’t as much danger. A lot of common items, such as cooking oil spray, hairspray, and other aerosols are dangerous.
As long as the gas stays in the container it is intended to be in, there won’t be much danger. If the substance isn’t contained you will likely need hazardous waste experts to deal with the situation. Don’t risk your health by trying to deal with gaseous waste of any kind.
A big cause of released gasses is damage to the containment vessel they were stored in. This occurs often in stores and businesses and can lead to serious incidents.
Who Decides What Is Hazardous
The process behind classifying a chemical or material as hazardous waste is complicated and can begin with a variety of agencies. The primary agency that deals with the storage, elimination, and safe control of hazardous waste is the EPA.
The EPA began this duty as soon as it was founded for the express purpose of dealing with several hazardous waste catastrophes that occurred in the late 60s and 70s from rivers on fire. Because they had so many caustic chemicals in them creating long-term community health impacts, the EPA set out to stop all of it.
Hazardous Waste and You
When it comes to the different types of hazardous waste it is important to protect yourself. We can find ourselves surrounded by caustic, toxic chemicals without any warning. If you need hazardous waste removal or cleanup, make sure to let professionals deal with it to minimize the risk and liability you’ll face.
We hope this article has offered you some insight into how the process works. Be sure to browse our site for other informative articles about hazardous waste.