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Things You Think You Know About Hazardous Waste – Pt. 2

Continuing our series of things you think you know about hazardous waste, this week Heritage Compliance Manager Mike Karpinski wrote about another common hazardous waste misconception. The idea that all non-hazardous wastes are “safe.”

This is the opposite side of last weeks post about all hazardous wastes being dangerous. As far as safety is concerned, it is even more important that people working with wastes understand that just seeing a “Non-Hazardous” or “Non-Regulated” sticker on a container does not mean it is not a dangerous material or is not subject to other regulatory programs.

These lables are simply regulatory classifications that guide the management of such materials. Often times, a material labeled “non-hazardous” can present an equal health or physical hazard to persons working with it as something marked hazardous (remember the story about the swimming pool from last week). Physical and chemical hazards associated with materials have thresholds established by the regulations for classification of waste.

For example, a liquid is considered hazardous waste when it has a flash point less than 140 degrees Fahrenheit by a specified testing protocol. A flashpoint is the temperature at which a particular organic compound gives off sufficient vapor to ignite in the air. Using the flashpoint criteria, gasoline would be a hazardous waste based on flash point, but used motor oil typically would not. That being said, we must note that both of these materials should be handled with care not only from an environmental perspective but from a fire hazard perspective.

Things You Think You Know About Hazardous Waste – Pt. 1

Over the next few weeks we are going to be doing a series about things you think you know about hazardous waste (that are actually wrong). These posts have been contributed by our 10-year Heritage Compliance Manager, Mike Karpinski. So without further ado, our first common misconception:

All hazardous wastes are “hazardous”

One of the key thoughts we try to convey in employee safety training at Heritage Environmental Services, LLC is the fact that the terms “hazardous waste” and “non-hazardous waste” are simply regulatory terms. There are many stipulations in the regulations that can classify a very dangerous chemical as a non-hazardous waste and a relatively benign waste a hazardous waste.

For example, there is a part of the EPA hazardous waste regulation commonly called the “mixture rule” for listed hazardous wastes that essentially states “the mixture of any listed hazardous waste with any other solid waste will result in the entire mixture being a listed hazardous waste.”

Reasoning by analogy, this means that if you take a swimming pool of water and add a thimble full of a listed hazardous waste you have created a swimming pool of listed hazardous waste. The swimming pool is probably still very safe to swim in but the water is a listed hazardous waste nonetheless (The swim suit you used for your dip in the pool and the water you used to shower off with after your dip will also be listed hazardous wastes until properly disposed of at a permitted hazardous waste treatment/disposal facility).

Some other common materials that may qualify as hazardous wastes include:

– Nicotine Patches

– Finger Nail Polish

– Hand Sanitizers

– Mosquito Spray

– Silly String

– Windex/Formula 409

– Teeth Whitening Strips

– Pool chemicals

– Gasoline

– Oil based paint

– Rechargeable Batteries

– Fluorescent Lighting

But don’t worry; men in dark suits are not on their way to take you away if you have thrown any of these things out at your home. Households are excluded from the hazardous waste regulations. If you are a business disposing things like these though you should probably stop and call a company like Heritage to help you manage these materials properly.

Plastic Identification: How to Categorize Your Waste

Information for this weeks post was found via the The Green Guide. Below, you will find the different classifications of plastic, common items in each category, and information about recycling. To read more from The Green Guide Network click here.

 

1

Plastic #1: Polyethylene terephtalate, also known as PETE or PET.  Usually clear in color, the vast majority of disposable soda and water bottles are made of #1 plastic. This plastic is considered generally safe and is picked up by most curbside recycling programs. However, the porous nature of its surface allows bacteria and flavor to accumulate, so avoid reusing these bottles as makeshift containers.

 

2

Plastic #2: High-density polyethylene, or HDPE.  Most milk jugs, detergent bottles, juice bottles, butter tubs, and toiletries bottles are made of HDPE. Usually opaque in color and picked up by most recycling programs. This plastic is considered safe and has low risk of leaching.

 

3

Plastic #3: Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. It is used to make food wrap, bottles for cooking oil, and the highly common plumbing pipes. PVC, although tough in terms of strength, is not considered safe to cook food near. PVC contains softening chemicals called phthalates that interfere with hormonal development. Never cook using food wrap, especially in a microwave oven. This plastic is rarely accepted by recycling programs.

 

4

Plastic #4: Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) is used to make grocery bags, some food wraps, squeezable bottles, and bread bags. While considered safe it is unfortunately not often accepted by curbside recycling programs.

 

5

Plastic #5: This is polypropylene. Common items produced with it include yogurt cups, medicine bottles, ketchup, syrup bottles, straws and similar wide-necked containers, as well as water bottles with a cloudy finish. This plastic is also considered safe, and is increasingly being accepted by curbside recycling programs.

 

6

Plastic #6: Polystyrene, or Styrofoam, from which disposable containers and packaging are made. Also found in disposable plates and cups. Overwhelming evidence suggests that this type of plastic leaches potentially toxic chemicals, especially when heated. Try to avoid the use of #6 plastic as much as possible. It is difficult to recycle and most recycling programs won’t accept it.

 

7

Plastic #7: This category basically means “everything else” and is composed of plastics that were invented after 1987 – the use of plastic in this category is at your own risk since you don’t know what could be in it. Polycarbonate falls into this category, including the highly toxic BPA. Products produced include baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, CD’s, DVD’s, and even iPods. It is wise to dispose of any food or drink related product that is known to contain BPA. It is difficult to recycle #7 plastic and most curbside recycling programs won’t accept it.

 

Where do you recycle your plastics? 

How to Clean Up Broken CFL Bulbs

Chances are you or someone you know uses CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light) bulbs in their home, office, etc. These bulbs, while being more environmentally friendly and longer lasting, pose some danger if broken. The danger stems primarily from the mercury that is in the bulbs because it is toxic in large quantities.

The EPA has a detailed set of guidelines to be followed if you have a broken bulb that needs cleaned up. These detailed steps can be found here.

To begin you clear people and animals out of the room where the broken bulb is located and turn off any central air system. Take about 5-10 minutes to let the room air out. This is a good time to gather the supplies you will need for the clean up. You will need:

– Stiff paper or cardboard

– Sticky tape

– Damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes

– A glass jar with a metal lid or a sealable plastic bag

The basic clean up steps (as taken from the EPA website) are as follows:

1. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place debris and paper/cardboard in a glass jar with a metal lid. If a glass jar is not available, use a sealable plastic bag. (NOTE: Since a plastic bag will not prevent the mercury vapor from escaping, remove the plastic bag(s) from the home after cleanup.)

2. Use sticky tape, such as duct tape, to pick up any remaining small glass fragments and powder. Place the used tape in the glass jar or plastic bag.

3. Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes. Place the towels in the glass jar or plastic bag.

It is not recommended that you use a vacuum unless you are certain that all the glass debris is gone.

After you seal the jar or bag you should remove it from your house. Then check about local ordinances concerning the proper disposal of mercury containing wastes. And remember, while this is a good method for cleaning up an accident the best practice is proper disposal before.

What is Hazardous Waste?

The other day as I was brainstorming ideas to write about for the blog something occurred to me. Hazardous waste is a very broad concept. I realized that outside of a company that deals with theses items on a daily basis, there may be confusion about what even qualifies as hazardous. This being said, I decided to talk about what, exactly, hazardous waste is.

The EPA defines hazardous waste as, “waste that is dangerous or potentially harmful to our health or the environment.” They further break down these wastes into four categories:

– Listed Wastes: These are wastes that EPA has determined to be hazardous. These listed wastes include F-list, K-list, and P-and U-Lists.

– Characteristic Wastes: These are wastes that do not fit into any of the above listings but that exhibit ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity.

– Universal Wastes: This includes things like batteries, pesticides, mercury-containing equipment (e.g., thermostats, old fashioned thermometers, etc.) and fluorescent lamps.

– Mixed Wastes: These are wastes that contain both radioactive and hazardous waste components.

For all of these wastes it is vital to dispose of them in a manner that will not harm the environment. Luckily, current available technologies are able to remove toxicity and/or hazard from many of these items making them safe for reuse or disposal.

Household Hazardous Wastes: What’s the Danger

Last week, we told you about common household hazardous wastes and how you can identify and dispose of them properly. In order to expand on this topic, this week we created the graphic below to give you information about why and how certain household wastes are dangerous.

To see a larger version, just click the image below.

HHW resized 600

Household Hazardous Wastes

According to the EPA website, hazardous waste is waste that is dangerous or potentially harmful to our health or the environment. Hazardous wastes can be liquids, solids, gases, or sludges. They can be discarded commercial products, like cleaning fluids or pesticides, or the by-products of manufacturing processes. Although it may surprise you, many of these products could be sitting in your cabinets right now.

What to Look For

If the product you have says any of the following, you may have a hazardous waste on your hands: Flammable, Volatile, Toxic, Corrosive, Caustic, Reactive, Poison, Contains Phosphates, Eye Irritant, Harmful if Swallowed, or Do Not Mix. Once you identify a product with one of these warnings, make sure to take extra care when using it.

Some Common Household Hazardous Wastes

– Ammonia

– Drain cleaner

– Mothballs

– Oven cleaner

– Spot removers

– Window cleaner

– Aerosol spray

– Nail polish remover

– Toilet bowl cleaner

– Tub & tile cleaners

– Glues & cement

– Household batteries

– Paints & stains

– Brake fluid

– Lighter fluid

– Motor oil

– Transmission fluid

– Herbicides

– Insect repellents

– Pesticides

What Should You Do?

If you have a hazardous product, the best thing to do is make sure you use all of it for its intended purpose. If you can’t do that though, there are several organizations that sponsor hazardous waste drop-off events where you can bring your old products and be assured that they will be properly disposed of. The US EPA website is a good place to start finding a time and location that will work for you.

Top Ten Hazardous Waste Generator Violations (And How to Avoid Them): Part 3

This week we will finish the article about the Top 10 Hazardous Waste Violations (And How to Avoid Them) written by Patty Smith, CHMM (Certified Hazardous Materials Manager).

4. Used Oil Labeling Violations   

          AVOID this by:

1.) Understand the definition of used oil.

2.) Any container or tank utilized to hold used oil should be labeled “Used Oil”.

3.) Ensure fill pipes used to transfer used oil to a UST are marked “Used Oil”.

3. Universal Waste Violations

-Violations for Spent Batteries:

1.) If universal waste batteries are in poor condition, they must be stored in a closed container.

2.) Labeled “Universal Waste Batteries”, “Waste Batteries”, or “Used Batteries”.

-Violations for Spent Lamps:

1.) Universal waste lamps must be stored in a closed container.

2.) Labeled “Universal Waste Lamps”, “Waste Lamps”, or “Used Lamps”.

AVOID this by:

1.) Understand the regulations for universal waste.

2.) Train employees on proper universal waste handling procedure.

2. Open Container Violations

AVOID this by:

1.) Rule of Thumb- if the contents would spill if the container was overturned, then the container is considered open.

2.) Close and latch funnels; screw in bungs; use drum rings and tighten bolts.

3.) Train employees to close containers when not adding or removing waste.

 1. Storage Area Accumulation Date Violations

-Containers of hazardous waste in a 90 or 180-day storage area must be marked with an accumulation date.

 AVOID this by:

1.) Once 55 gallons of hazardous waste or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste is exceeded at the satellite accumulation area, storage area dating requirements apply after three days.

 2.) Make sure all containers of hazardous waste in storage are marked with waste accumulation dates during weekly inspections.

 In General:

• Familiarize yourself with the regulations.

• Know your generator classification.

• Select the best storage method for your hazardous waste.

• Train employees so compliance is a team effort.

Top Ten Hazardous Waste Generator Violations (And How to Avoid Them): Part 2

With the start of the new year, we return to the Top 10 Hazardous Waste Violations (And How to Avoid Them) written by Patty Smith, CHMM (Certified Hazardous Materials Manager). We covered numbers 10, 9, and 8 a few weeks ago and this week we will look at 7, 6, and 5. So, without further ado:

7. Contingency Planning Violations

Small Quantity Generator Requirements:

1.) Designate an emergency coordinator and post contact information.

2.) Post the location of emergency equipment.

3.) Post emergency telephone numbers.

4.) Ensure employees are familiar with emergency procedures.

Large Quantity Generator Requirements:

1.) Written plan on-site and up to date.

2.) List name, address, phone number (home and office) for designated emergency coordinator.

3.) Submit to local authorities.

        AVOID this by:

1.) Designate an emergency coordinator.

2.) Keep information up to date and on-site.

3.) Ensure all required elements are included.

4.) For LQG’s, document submittals to local authorities.

6. Satellite Accumulation Area (SAA) Labeling Violations

Either with “hazardous waste” OR Words describing the container contents

AVOID this by:

1.) Review and understand the definition of a satellite accumulation area.

2.) Label your container once the first droop of hazardous waste is added to the container.

5. Storage Area Labeling

Containers in a 90 or 180-day storage area must be marked with the words “Hazardous Waste”

AVOID this by:

1.) Once 55-gallons of hazardous waste or 1 quart of acute hazardous waste is exceeded at the satellite accumulation area, storage area labeling requirements apply after three days.

2.) Ensure all hazardous waste containers in the storage are marked “Hazardous Waste” during the weekly inspections.

Top Ten Hazardous Waste Generator Violations (And How to Avoid Them)

Over the next few weeks, we will be talking about a list of common hazardous waste violations provided by Patty Smith, CHMM (Certified Hazardous Materials Manager). Patty has been selling hazardous waste transportation and disposal services for over 20 years in the Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama markets. Each article will offer a few tips (in a descending numbered list) about hazardous waste identification and proper disposal practices. These tips will help companies who often generate waste during business to properly identify and handle it.

10. Failure to Make a Hazardous Waste Determination

AVOID this by:

1.) Make a determination on all waste generated on-site.
2.) Treat unknown material as a hazardous waste during the determination process (label, close, date, etc.)
3.) Keep necessary documentation for both hazardous and non-hazardous waste.

9. Failure to Have a Hazardous Waste Reduction Plan On-Site

AVOID this by:

1.) Keep a copy on-site
2.) Update annually to ensure accuracy
3.) Management signature
4.) Ensure all applicable elements are included in plan

8. Failure to Perform Weekly Inspections of Hazardous Waste Storage Areas

AVOID this by:

1.) Perform the inspections on the same day every week
2.) Mondays and Fridays are not a good choice
3.) Have a back-up inspector
4.) Document inspections on an inspection log

Got any tips of your own to share? Tell us about them in the comments section below!