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A while back we wrote a post about the Characteristics of Hazardous Waste. There are four that you need to look for in order to classify which type of waste you are dealing with. They are as follows:

  • Ignitability,
  • Corrosivity,
  • Reactivity, and
  • Toxicity.

In the previous post we gave detailed information about these four categories, below, we have outlined them again with illustrated examples.

Hazardous Waste Infographic

On Tuesday we covered the first three classes of hazardous waste classes including explosives, gasses, and flammable liquids. Today, we are going to cover the remaining 6 classes as well as the ORM (other regulated materials) definitions. To refresh your memory, a hazard class is the category of hazard assigned to a hazardous material under the definitional criteria of 49 CFR Part 173 and the provisions of the HMT at §172.101. A material may meet the defining criteria for more than one hazard class but is assigned to only one hazard class. That said, read on for the definitional criteria of classes 4-9.

Class 4  

  • Division 4.1 – Flammable Solid – Explosives wetted with sufficient water, alcohol, or plasticizer to explosive properties that when dry are Class 1 explosives and self-reactive explosives that are liable to undergo at normal or elevated temperatures a strongly exothermal decomposition caused by high transport temperatures or by contamination. Also included in this definition are readily combustible solids that may cause a fire through friction, have a burning rate faster than 2.2 mm (0.087 inches) per second, or any ignitable metal powders. Ref. 173.124(a).
  • Division 4.2 – Spontaneously combustible materials – Includes pyrophoric material, which is a liquid or solid that even in small quantities and without an external ignition source can ignite within five minutes after coming into contact with air; and self-heating material, which is liable to self-heat when it comes into contact with air even without an energy source. Ref. 173.124(b).
  • Division 4.3 – Dangerous when wet materials – A material that by contact with water is liable to become spontaneously flammable or to give off flammable or toxic gas at a rate greater than one liter per kilogram of the material per hour. Ref. 173.124(c).

Class 5  

  • Division 5.1 – Oxidizer – A material that may by yielding oxygen cause or enhance the combustion of other materials. Ref. 173.127(a).
  • Division 5.2 – Organic peroxide – Any organic compound containing oxygen in the bivalent -O-O structure and which may be considered a derivative of hydrogen peroxide where one or more of the hydrogen atoms have been replaced by organic radicals, must be classed as an organic peroxide unless: it classifies as an explosive; the predominant hazard of the material is other than from an organic peroxide; the material is forbidden for transport; or the material will not pose a hazard in transport. Ref. 173.128(a).

Class 6  

  • Division 6.1 – Poisonous materials – A material, other than a gas, which is known to be so toxic to humans as to afford a hazard to health during transportation; or the material is presumed to be toxic because there is evidence of oral, dermal, and/or inhalation toxicity in laboratory animals. Ref. 173.132(a).
  • Division 6.2 – Infectious substance or etiologic agent – A viable microorganism, or its toxin, which causes or may cause disease in humans or animals. Ref. 173.134(a).

Class 7  

  • Radioactive Material – Any material, or combination of materials, that spontaneously emits ionizing radiation, and having a specific activity greater than 0.002 microcuries per gram. Ref. 173.403.

Class 8  

  • Corrosive Material – A liquid or solid that causes visible destruction or irreversible alterations in human skin tissue at the site of contact, or a liquid that has a severe corrosion rate on steel or aluminum. Ref. 173.136(a).

Class 9  

  • Miscellaneous hazardous material – A material that presents a hazard during transport but is not included in any other hazard class. Ref. 173.140(a) and (b).

ORM – Other Regulated Materials – A material such as a consumer commodity that, though otherwise subject to DOT regulations, presents a limited hazard during transportation due to its form, quantity and packaging. Ref. 173.144.

In our RCRA training programs, we provide information about the different hazard classes and their divisions, each division has a specific definition of what constitutes that type of material. A hazard class is the category of hazard assigned to a hazardous material under the definitional criteria of 49 CFR Part 173 and the provisions of the HMT at §172.101. A material may meet the defining criteria for more than one hazard class but is assigned to only one hazard class. The nine (9) hazard classes, numbered 1-9, are defined at 49 CFR Part 173. Of these nine classes, some are further broken down into divisions. For your reference, we will be defining these classes and divisions this week. Classes 1-3 are defined below, look for 4-8 on Thursday!

Class 1 – Explosives – Any substance, article, or device, which is designed to function by explosion, i.e., an extremely rapid release of gas and heat, or by chemical reaction within itself is able to function in a similar manner even if not designed to function by explosion, unless such substance or article is otherwise specifically classified.

  • Division 1.1 – Consists of explosives that have a mass explosion hazard. A mass explosion is one which affects almost the entire load instantaneously. (Formerly Class A explosives prior to Jan. 1, 1991). Ref. 173.50(b)(1).
  • Division 1.2 – Consists of explosives that have a projection hazard but not a mass explosion hazard. (Formerly Class A or Class B explosives). Ref. 173.50(b)(2).
  • Division 1.3 – Consists of explosives that have a fire hazard and either a minor blast hazard or minor projection hazard or both, but not a mass explosion hazard. (Formerly Class B explosives). Ref. 173.50(b)(3).
  • Division 1.4 – Consists of explosive devices that present a minor explosion hazard. No device in this division may contain more than 25 g (0.9 ounces) of a detonating material. (Formerly Class C explosives.) Ref. 173.50(b)(4).
  • Division 1.5 – Consists of very insensitive explosives. This division comprises substances which have a mass explosion hazard but are so insensitive that there is very little probability of initiation or of transition from burning to detonation under normal conditions of transport. (Formerly Blasting Agents.) Ref. 173.50(b)(5).
  • Division 1.6 – Consists of extremely insensitive articles which do not have a mass explosive hazard. This division comprises articles which contain only extremely insensitive detonating materials with negligible probability of accidental initiation or propagation. (No previous applicable hazard class.) Ref. 173.50(b)(6).

Class 2 

  • Division 2.1 – Flammable Gas – Material that is a gas at 20°C (68°F) or less and 101.3kPa (14.7 psi) of pressure or a material which has a boiling point of 20°C or less at 101.3 kPa, which is ignitable at 101.3 kPa of pressure when in a mixture of 13 percent or less by volume of air; or has a flammable range at 101.3 kPa with air of at least 12 percent regardless of the lower limit. Ref. 173.115(a).
  • Division 2.2 – Non-flammable, non-poisonous compressed gas – including compressed gas, liquefied gas, pressurized cryogenic gas, and compressed gas in solution. Any material which exerts pressure of 280 kPa (41 psi) at 20°C and does not meet the definition of Division 2.1 or 2.3. Ref. 173.115(b).
  • Division 2.3 – Poisonous Gas – A material which is a gas at 20°C or less and a pressure of 101.3 kPa and which is a material known to be toxic to humans or is presumed to be toxic to laboratory animals and therefore poses a hazard to health during transportation. Ref. 173.115(c).

Class 3

  • Flammable Liquid – Any liquid having a flashpoint of not more than 60°C (140°F), with certain exceptions. Ref. 173.120(a).
  • Combustible Liquid – Any liquid that has a flashpoint above 60°C (140°F) and below 93°C (200°F) and does not meet the definition of any other hazard class. Ref. 173.120(b).

In the past we’ve discussed what hazardous waste is defined as. Today, I’d like to focus on the different characteristics hazardous waste may possess. These characteristics help us understand what the waste is capable of/how it poses a danger. We discussed some aspects of these characteristics in our Household Hazardous Wastes eBook but today I hope to delve further into them.

There are four basic characteristics to look at; ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity.

Ignitability – According to the EPA, “Ignitable wastes can create fires under certain conditions, are spontaneously combustible, or have a flash point less than 60 °C (140 °F). Examples include waste oils and used solvents.” A flash point is the lowest temperature at which a substance can evaporate enough to produce sufficient vapor to form an ignitable mixture with the air.

Ignitable wastes can be broken down into two categories, solids, and liquids. As stated above, flash point is the most important things to remember when it comes to ignitable liquids. You have to consider other things with solids though. Non liquid ignitables are capable under standard temperature and pressure of causing fire through friction, absorption of moisture, or spontaneous chemical changes. If ignited, these wastes will burn so vigorously and persistently that they create a hazardous situation.

Corrosivity – According to the EPA, “Corrosive wastes are acids or bases (pH less than or equal to 2, or greater than or equal to 12.5) that are capable of corroding metal containers, such as storage tanks, drums, and barrels. Battery acid is an example.” A corrosive can cause skin damage to people and significantly corrode metal. A corrosive hazardous material can be either liquid or solid.

Reactivity – The EPA defines reactive wastes as, “wastes [which] are unstable under “normal” conditions. They can cause explosions, toxic fumes, gases, or vapors when heated, compressed, or mixed with water. Examples include lithium-sulfur batteries and explosives.”

Reactive wastes are, in themselves, unstable. They have the potential to form toxic gases, vapors, or fumes which can endanger human health. Some (D003) form potentially explosive mixtures with water. Reactive wastes are capable of detonation or explosive reactions.

Toxicity – Toxic wastes are defined by the EPA as wastes that are “harmful or fatal when ingested or absorbed (e.g., containing mercury, lead, etc.). When toxic wastes are land disposed, contaminated liquid may leach from the waste and pollute ground water.”

More information regarding these waste characteristics can be found in the 40 CFR §261.

Hazardous wastes will fall into one or more of these categories and it is important to know which ones you and/or your company’s wastes fall into so you can safely handle them. Additionally, it is vital to remember that “non-hazardous” does not mean non-dangerous or unregulated, always check with EPA guidelines and individual state laws to ensure compliance and safety.

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.