Hazardous waste removal is often taken care of by decontamination workers or hazardous waste removal technicians. These paid professionals have the appropriate equipment and safety garments needed to remove waste that is corrosive, flammable, radioactive, or contaminating in nature. Most waste materials are removed by being placed in leak-proof and airtight containers and then transported to the proper disposal facilities. Disposal methods vary based on the type of hazardous waste.
Workers often wear protective gloves, shoes, face masks, and other clothing to enter an area that is contaminated or has been exposed to hazardous materials. Common waste materials include lead, asbestos, radioactive materials, and biological waste. Each one undergoes a different form of hazardous waste removal. Generally, materials are removed from the site and either stored, treated with agents to decontaminate them, or incinerated.
Leads and asbestos are materials that were commonly used for building several decades ago, but their use has been discontinued due to their harmful health affects. Lead can still be found in paint in houses and buildings built before the late 1970s. Hazardous waste removal technicians remove lead from buildings by covering it with a special putty and then scraping it away. Asbestos insulation and other materials are removed from buildings and stored in airtight containers for transport.
Radioactive materials are generally neutralized and moved to a facility where they are stored or disposed of. Depending on the material, they may be kept in airtight containers and buried or incinerated in a specialized furnace. Similar hazardous waste removal methods are used for flammable materials.
Biological waste can include things like medical waste, septic waste, or biological weapons. Medical waste is often either stored in a leak-proof container and then disposed of in a landfill, or incinerated, depending on how contaminated the waste is. For example, used gloves are often thrown out in the garbage and carried off to landfills, while used needles are generally stored and then incinerated. Septic or municipal waste is generally separated from the water supply it is contaminating and is then stored in landfills; the water is then filterd, treated, and purified so that it can be re-used. Biological weaponry is likely to be removed from the environment, treated, or destroyed, depending on the situation and the type of waste being left behind.
Hazardous waste removal technicians are trained in the removal of a variety of materials. Some may specialize in a particular type of material, and others are more generalized in their work. To contact someone to remove hazardous waste, call or email an environmental agency or an insurance provider if the waste is being removed from a home or building.