A hazardous waste program may be established to regulate how dangerous waste is managed. This may include waste clean up and disposal. The program may also oversee hazardous waste storage and treatment. Additionally, technical information and guidance on how to minimize hazardous waste generation may also be provided by a program.
Hazardous waste is any type of waste that may be harmful or dangerous to the health of living beings or the environment. Some solids, liquids, and gases can be hazardous waste, including pesticides, cleaning fluids, automotive products, and propane tanks. The accumulation of such wastes may pose a threat to health and environment.
Substances need to meet certain criteria in order to be considered hazardous waste. Typically, there are some distinguishing characteristics of a hazardous waste substance. One characteristic is corrosivity, or the ability of the material to damage or destroy another substance. Ignitability, or the ability to combust or cause a fire, is another characteristic of hazardous waste.
Toxicity, the degree to which a substance may damage a living organism, is an additional characteristic. Toxic wastes may include substances containing lead or mercury for example. Reactivity, another characteristic, is the capacity of a substance to interact with other materials, in some cases causing explosions or the release of dangerous gases. These substances may generally be considered hazardous if, when improperly manged, they threaten the environment and human health.
One way waste may be managed is by ensuring proper hazardous waste disposal. A hazardous waste program may clearly outline disposal facilities specifically designed to permanently dispose of hazardous waste. Disposed of improperly, such waste may enter into the water system or contaminate the land. Proper disposal can help prevent these dangerous substances from becoming environmental pollutants.
Hazardous waste treatment may be another way to keep harmful substances from being introduced to the environment. The process of changing the biological, physical, or chemical characteristic of a hazardous waste to make it less of a threat to the environment may be of great importance in a hazardous waste program. Proper treatment may allow material resources to be recovered, the waste to be neutralized, and permit the safer transportation and storage of the waste.
Of the many resources provided by a hazardous waste program, hazardous waste storage information may be some of the most essential. Storage may be provided to keep hazardous waste from being exposed prior to being disposed of or treated. Waste may be stored in containment buildings, which are usually completely enclosed. Containers or storage devices that are portable may also be used to dispose, transport, or treat hazardous waste. Additionally, tanks made of concrete, fiberglass, or plastic may be used as storage.
In addition to disposal and storage, a hazardous waste program may work toward reducing or eliminating the production of hazardous waste. Changes in the ways in which products are manufactured can help reduce waste, in some cases, as can changes in the materials used in the process. Recycling is another way hazardous waste can be reduced. Fly ash, for example, dangerous byproduct of coal combustion, can be turned into fly ash concrete.