How to Properly Dispose of Hazardous Waste

    Hazardous waste packaging

    Hazardous waste hurts a lot. Humans produce 13 tons of hazardous waste every second. Even limited exposure can cause cancer, infertility, and birth defects.

    That is why hazardous waste disposal is essential. But you can’t just throw your waste out in the trash. You have to be a lot smarter than that.

    What are wastes you should never throw away by yourself? How can you store your waste? When do you have too much waste in your laboratory or home?

    Answer these questions and you can mitigate the pain of toxins and chemicals. Here is your quick guide.

    Distinguish Between Hazardous and Extremely Hazardous Waste

    Some wastes are hazardous. They pose a threat to you and your loved ones if you don’t adopt good waste removal methods. But you handle them on your own.

    Extremely hazardous wastes are ones that you must get help with. They include arsenic, beryllium, and chlorine.

    Wear gloves and personal protective equipment whenever you go near extremely hazardous materials. Avoid moving them or placing them near flames and sources of high heat.

    Hire disposal services to come and remove your chemicals for you. Visit websites like and see how they can take your waste away.

    You should treat unknown chemicals as hazardous waste. As soon as you see a chemical you don’t know about, ask others about it. If no one can identify it, arrange for someone to remove it as soon as possible.

    Distinguish Amongst Different Chemicals

    Once you have determined that you can handle certain wastes, you need to recognize what threat they pose. Liquid waste can spill onto your body or land on the floor.

    Even if you wipe it off, chemicals can enter your skin and burn you. You can contract viruses or bacteria, especially if you swallow liquid waste.

    Trash can spread chemicals or dangerous pathogens. Dry chemicals can cause reactions or become ingested, especially by pets. Piercing objects can cut the skin and spread bloodborne pathogens.

    The Department of Transportation has its own categories for dangerous chemicals. Ignitable chemicals can create fires, even at very low temperatures. They include gasoline and paints.

    Corrosives can rust metal and melt through steel. Most acids count, as do batteries.

    Reactive chemicals can create explosions, including after reacting to normal air conditions. Examples include iodine and pool chemicals.

    Toxic materials are poisonous if they are absorbed through the skin or swallowed. Batteries also count as toxic materials, but most toxic materials are pesticides and gardening materials.

    Find Compatible Containers

    Different chemicals react to different materials in containers. You should never store corrosive materials in metal objects. Acids should not go in glass, especially hydrofluoric acid.

    Solvents and ignitable chemicals should not go in lightweight plastic containers. You can place them in thicker ones made with non-polyethylene plastic.

    Your containers should have screw-on caps that do not leak. A wooden cork or plastic wrap does not suffice. If you need to reinforce the cap with something, you should use a different container entirely.

    You should clean the container to make sure it is entirely dry. Even one drop of water can trigger a dangerous reaction. It may be okay to reuse containers, but you should avoid doing so.

    Store small chemicals in small containers and large wastes in large ones. Do not overfill them. Leave roughly ten percent of headspace in case the items inside expand.

    It is essential that you label every waste container you have. At a minimum, you should write a label with big black letters listing the contents. But you should attach hazardous waste tags with pictograms showing the potential dangers.

    Pick a Storage Area

    If you work with a lot of chemicals, you should designate an area to store your waste. The area should be near where you generate most of your waste, and you should be able to watch over it.

    But it must lie out of the way of your normal activities. Electrical outlets and sources of fire should be far away from it.

    Place shelves in the area where you can store your different containers. You should never place containers of two different types next to each other. If they spill, they may react.

    Label the area with danger signs that describe the wastes you are storing there. If you have two paths leading to the area, you should place signs along both paths. Place additional signage against the shelves.

    Arrange a Pick-Up

    Someone should remove your waste within 90 days of it going into a container. If you ever have more than 55 gallons of waste, you should have it all removed, regardless of how long it has been there.

    You should never pour toxic chemicals down the drain. Some local governments accept wastes like batteries and electronics. You can drop these off at a municipal building or garbage company.

    Some governments can send people out to pick up your wastes. Give them a call and schedule a pick-up within a couple of days. You can also touch base with a hazardous waste removal company if you have a lot of materials.

    Get Help For All of Your Hazards

    You don’t have to waste your health on hazardous waste. Stay far away from extremely hazardous waste. Get someone to come and pick those materials up for you.

    Some wastes can dissolve metal, while others can start fires. That makes it important to find the right containers for each waste you have. Be diligent when labeling them.

    Find a stable location to store your waste. Once enough time passes or when you have too much, get someone to remove your materials.

    Hazardous waste is just one threat to your business. Find out more safety tips by following our coverage.

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