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What Are the Most Common Hazardous Materials Regulations?

The Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988 made it illegal to dispose of biohazardous materials with regular garbage.
Article Details
  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Hazardous materials are solids, liquids, or gases that can harm living creatures or the environment. The production, handling, and disposal of such materials are often subject to government regulation. Those regulations can vary from one place to another. There are, however some hazardous material regulations that are quite common. These include maintaining material safety data sheets (MSDS), properly labeling such materials, and disposing of these materials as prescribed by law.

One of the most common hazardous materials regulations requires companies to maintain MSDS. These are documents that provide various sorts of information about hazardous materials. Examples of the type of information included in them are flammability, chemical composition, and handling recommendations. These should be accessible to anyone who is exposed to such products.

Hazardous materials regulations generally determine who can work with such materials in an occupational setting. This is usually managed by requiring people who work with hazardous materials to receive a certain amount of instruction. Their competence is usually demonstrated by the receipt of certifications and licenses. In most cases, these must be renewed, which means that those working with these materials must display continuing competence.

Many governments have hazardous materials regulations that require that the materials be properly labeled. This means that when the substance is known, it should be identified by name. Important characteristics should also be identified. If a product is toxic or explosive, for example, this should be clearly noted. Proper labeling is usually required whether a product is being stored, transported, used, or disposed of.

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Hazardous materials regulations usually include storage guidelines. These may include the amount of time such materials can be stored. Such guidelines also usually dictate the conditions under which such materials can be stored in a commercial setting. These rules may outline how far such materials must be kept from water or food sources and how far they must be kept from property lines.

Most hazardous materials regulations also dictate how such materials are to be discarded. These regulations can govern the types of containers that must be used for disposal. They can also govern the volumes of materials that may be accumulated before disposal. The methods and authorities authorized to dispose of such materials are also generally outlined.

Sale of hazardous materials is often strictly regulated. It may be required that special licenses and permits be obtained for those wishing to be retailers or distributors of such goods. The quantities that may be sold may be subject to hazardous materials regulations. It is also common for the sale of certain items to be prohibited in certain places.

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