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Running head: HAZARDOUS WASTE 1 Hazardous Waste XXX Columbia Southern University
HAZARDOUS WASTE 2 Hazardous Waste Dealing with hazardous waste has been a growing issue in the United States for many years. According to Nathanson and Schneider, a broad definition of hazardous waste defined under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is “any waste that can cause or significantly contribute to an increase in mortality or an increase in serious irreversible, or incapacitating reversible illness; or pose a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, or disposed of, or otherwise managed” (2015). The unknowing negligence of earlier years has led to many cleanup activities and prompted regulatory actions to govern the handling and disposal of hazardous waste. Characteristics of Hazardous Waste To assist with identifying hazardous waste, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has developed lists which are published in the federal regulations. The list , however, is not all- inclusive. Certain wastes may still be defined as a hazardous waste if they exhibit any of the measurable characteristics of a hazardous waste (Nathanson & Schneider, 2015). Four basic properties or characteristics can cause a waste to be regulated as hazardous. Toxicity – Toxic waste is a material that is poisonous and may have acute or chronic effects on humans or animal, leading to death or violent illness. Other types may have chronic effects, with many leading to cancer or causing birth defects. Most toxic wastes come from industries which manufacture products such as pesticides, paint, metals, or petroleum products. Ignitability – Ignitable wastes burn at a relatively low temperature, less than 140°F, and may spontaneously combust during transport, storage, or disposal (Nathanson &
HAZARDOUS WASTE 3 Schneider, 2015). These may include compressed gases and oxidizers as defined by the Department of Transportation. Reactivity – Reactive wastes are unstable and can explode when mixed with air, water, or other chemicals. They may also produce toxic vapors and fumes. Incidents related to reactive wastes are often attributed to unintentional or inadequately planned mixing of incompatible chemicals (Etchells et al., 2009). Corrosivity – Corrosive wastes including strong alkaline or acidic substances, destroy materials and living tissue by chemical reaction (Nathanson & Schneider, 2015). These include aqueous wastes with a pH of less than or equal to 2, a pH greater than or equal to 12.5 or based on the liquids ability to corrode steel. Hazardous Waste Lists As previously mentioned, the EPA has defined lists of materials that are considered hazardous waste. These lists are commonly known as the F, K, P, and U lists and can be found in title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in section 261(EPA, 2020a).

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