The word hazardous as defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary means “dangerous and involving risk, especially to someone’s health”. So, it is hardly surprising that hazardous waste disposal is strictly regulated. Households, industries, workspaces and different organizations contribute to the total hazardous waste generated and are responsible for their safe disposal.
However, that responsibility leads to confusion and stress more often than not. What is to be classified as hazardous waste and what can be dumped in a bin with other garbage? To get relief, many organizations and households opt for skip bins hire, which takes up the responsibility of properly disposing of hazardous waste.
Understanding What Makes Hazardous Waste Hazardous
It is necessary to understand which types of waste are hazardous so that you do not violate any regulations surrounding them. Hazardous waste can be characterized into four different categories: ignitable waste, corrosive waste, reactive waste and toxic waste.
I. Characteristics and Examples of Ignitable Waste
Objects which are inflammable are broadly termed ignitable waste. However, there are some intricacies to this broad categorization.
- Alcohol, gasoline and acetone have one thing in common: their flashpoints (simply, the lowest temperature above which their fumes ignite) are 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius). Substances with similar flashpoints are all deemed to be hazardous waste marked dangerous for their inflammability.
- Ignitable waste also includes solids that are prone to spontaneous combustion. Some examples include large quantities of pistachio nuts, cotton, coal dust, etc.
- Compressed gases and oxidizers are also ignitable waste and should be treated with caution.
II. Identifying Corrosive Waste
You might have come across materials that come with a label warning “corrosive”. Corrosive substances have the ability to eat away through their containers. That is why these substances are classified as hazardous waste. In a landfill or a dump, they can leak through their containers or cause other harmful chemicals to leach. Technically, any kind of liquid which has a PH of less than or equal to 2 or greater than or equal to 12.5 is termed as corrosive. Very commonly used corrosive substances include nitric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, rust removers and battery acid. The easiest way you can dispose of any similar material in the proper manner so you can stay within regulations is to use skip bins.
III. The Hazards of Reactive Waste
Of all types of hazardous waste, reactive waste is the trickiest and the hardest to pin down. That is because there are simply too many conditions and situations to list down all the reactive substances which generally tend to end up in the bin. However, there are certain guidelines that you can follow as a generator in order to avoid violations and ascertain whether the substance you are about to toss is reactive or not:
- When it mixes with water, toxic gases are created and released
- It can undergo violent change without detonation and hence, is deemed unstable
- Causes a violent or explosive reaction in combination with water or air
Some common examples of waste classified as hazardous for its reactivity include potassium metal, TNT, and ethyl ether.
IV. The Dangers of Toxic Waste
Toxic waste is different from the above three categories of hazardous waste in the sense that you or others are not at immediate risk or threat of injury. However, toxic waste is notorious for poisoning groundwater. As of now, around 60 contaminants are listed as toxic waste after being tested through a method called TCLP or Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure. If you suspect that you are generating waste that may be of toxic nature, it is best to contact authorities for a test to avoid regulatory violations.