Hazardous Waste

There are several ways of classifying waste: by its nature (dry and wet), by its chemical composition (organic matter and inorganic matter), etc.

Hazardous wastes are part of class 1 and are those types of material that pose risks to public health and the environment, requiring special treatment and disposal based on their characteristics of flammability, corrosivity, reactivity, among others.

Hazardous waste is accumulated daily in homes and businesses and, unfortunately, its disposal is still carried out irregularly. Improper disposal of hazardous waste can lead to contamination of soil and groundwater. This ends up putting the health of people and the environment at risk, taking into account that a large part of this type of waste contains very dangerous chemical substances in its composition, such as heavy metals.

To reverse the problems caused by incorrect disposal, it is necessary to begin to encourage the education of the population, as well as the adequate punishment of those who break the law and put the health of the population and the environment at risk.

Waste is regulated as hazardous if it meets any of the following characteristic:

1. Hazardous Ignitable

  • A liquid with a flash point less than 60 degrees Centigrade
  • A solid capable under normal conditions of causing fire through friction, absorption of moisture or spontaneous chemical changes
  • A flammable compressed gas
  • An oxidizer

2. Hazardous Corrosive

  • An aqueous with pH less than or equal to 2, or greater than or equal to 12.5
  • A liquid that corrodes steel at a rate greater than 0.250 inches per year at 55 degrees Centigrade

3. Hazardous Reactive

  • Is unstable and readily undergoes violent change without detonating
  • Reacts violently with water
  • Forms potentially explosive mixtures with water
  • Upon mixture with water generates toxic gases, vapors or fumes
  • Generates toxic gases, vapors or fumes at pH conditions between 2 and 12.5
  • Capable of detonation or explosive decomposition
  • Classified as a Department of Transportation explosive

4. Hazardous Toxicity Characteristic

  • The waste contains certain metals, pesticides or selected organics above specified levels.
  • if it is otherwise capable of causing environmental or health damage if improperly disposed (this judgment is based on knowledge of the material).

Are considered hazardous waste:

  • Traces of paint (they are flammable, can be toxic);
  • Hospital material (they are pathogenic, they have genetic material from another person and it is not possible to know if any bacteria present or a virus can contaminate it);
  • Chemicals (they can be toxic, they can be reactive, that is, they can react with some other substance and cause a fire or be corrosive as well);
  • Radioactive products;
  • Fluorescent lamps (they contain mercury inside the glass, which is considered a heavy metal and bioaccumulates, contaminating the environment in which it is thrown, since the mercury found loose in nature contaminates other organisms causing problems for the metabolism of the that absorb it);
  • Batteries and batteries (they have several metals in their composition that can be corrosive, reactive and toxic depending on the environment)

This type of waste requires special treatment and proper management is the first step for companies to contribute to a healthier environment. Therefore, hazardous waste must not only be stored separately, but must also be transported in different vehicles, which must have an identification plate and receive a specific and adequate final disposal.

It is of utmost importance to treat hazardous waste carefully and with great attention to the special storage and disposal needs that they require. Like public and private power, each individual in society must be aware of doing their part when it comes to protecting the planet from the consequences of human consumption.

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