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.