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Definition of Hazardous Waste

Objectives: By the end of this section, participants will be able to determine what substances are hazardous wastes.

Why this section is important: The HAZWOPER rule pertains to workers who are potentially exposed to hazardous waste.

Definition of Hazardous Waste

EPA Exceptions to Hazardous Waste Designation

Definition of Hazardous Waste

Must be a solid waste. A solid waste is any discarded (including abandoned, recycled, reclaimed, reused, or inherently waste-like) material that is:
  • Either garbage refuse or sludge, or
  • A solid, liquid, semi-solid or contained gaseous material other than:
    • Domestic sewage or any mixture of domestic sewage and other wastes that passes through a sewer system to a publicly-owned treatment works for treatment, or
    • Industrial wastewater discharges regulated by section 402 of the Clean Water Act, or
    • Irrigation return flows, or
    • Nuclear materials, or
    • In situ mining wastes
  1. Contains a hazardous waste listed in Subpart D of Title 40 CFR part 261 (261.31, 261.32, and 261.33), or

The solid waste exhibits any of the characteristics defined in subpart C of Title 40 CFR part 261 which are:

  1. Ignitability
  • It has any characteristic of ignitability, or
  • It is a liquid, other than an aqueous solution containing < 24% alcohol by volume and has a flash point < 60 C (140 F), or
  • It is not a liquid and is capable under standard temperature and pressure, of causing fire through friction, absorption of moisture or spontaneous chemical changes and, when ignited, burns so vigorously and persistently that it creates a hazard, or
  • It is an ignitable compressed gas as defined in Title 49 CFR 173.300, or
  • It is an oxidizer as defined in Title 49 CFR 173.151
  1. It has any characteristic of corrosivity:
    • It is aqueous and has a pH of:
      • 2 or less, or
      • 12.5 or more, or
    • It is liquid that is corrosive to steel, or
  1. It is reactive:
    • It is normally unstable and readily undergoes violent change without detonating, or
    • It reacts violently with water, or
    • It forms potentially explosive mixtures with water, or
    • When mixed with water it generates toxic gases, vapors, or fumes, or
    • It is a sulfide or cyanide bearing waste that when exposed to pH conditions between 2 and 12.5 it generates toxic gases, vapors, or fumes, or
    • It is detonable if subjected to a strong initiating source or if heated under confinement, or
    • It is readily detonable at standard temperature and pressure, or
    • It is a forbidden explosive (Title 49 CFR 173.51), a Class A explosive (Title 49 CFR 173.53), or a Class B explosive (Title 49 CFR 173.88), or
  2. It is toxic: It contains concentrations exceeding the regulatory levels in Table 1 of 40 CFR part 261.24 using the Toxic Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP). This includes biological hazards.


EPA Exceptions to Hazardous Waste Designation

  • Carbon tetrachloride, tetrachloroethylene, and trichloroethylene discharged in small quantities (i.e. < 1 ppm of total discharge) into a publicly owned treatment works that is regulated under the Clean Water Act.
  • Methylene chloride, 1,1,1-trichloroethane, chlorobenzene, o-dichlorobenzene, cresols, cresylic acid, nitrobenzene, toluene, methyl ethyl ketone, carbon disulfide, isobutanol, pyridine, and spent chlorofluorocarbon solvents in small quantities (i.e. < 1 ppm of total discharge) into a POTW that is regulated under Section 307b or 402 of the Clean Water Act.
  • Listed petroleum refining byproducts defined in Title 40 CFR Part 261.32.
  • De minimis losses from manufacturing.
  • Wastewater from laboratory operations provided total wastewater flow is < 1% annualized and hazardous wastes are < 1 ppm of total flow.
  • Used oil containing more than 1000 ppm total halogens is assumed hazardous; however, if applicant can show that oil does not contain listed hazardous wastes, oil is assumed to be not hazardous.
  • Household wastes.
  • Mining overburden returned to the mine site.
  • Fly ash waste, bottom ash waste, slag waste, and flue gas emission control waste generated from the combustion of fossil fuels.
  • Drilling fluids and byproducts of oil exploration.
  • Chromium-contaminated wastes under certain circumstances (see 261.4(b)(6)(i).
  • Solid waste from the extraction, beneficiation, and processing of some ores and minerals.
  • Cement kiln dust waste.
  • Some arsenical treated wood.
  • Petroleum contaminated media and debris if the corrective actions are regulated under Title 40 CFR part 280 (Underground Storage Tank regulations).
  • Some injected groundwater.
  • Used chlorofluorocarbons that are to be recycled.
  • Some non-terne plated used oil filters.


Thought Questions (you do not need to respond)

Is discarded muriatic acid (ph < 1) in household garbage a hazardous waste and do residential "garbagemen" have to be HAZWOPER trained?

What is an example of a used chlorofluorocarbon to be recycled?  Hint: Most automotive repair shops have this.

If a chemical is highly toxic, but it does not permeate through a landfill (i.e., it does not pass the Toxic Characteristic Leaching Procedure) is it a hazardous waste?

Why do you think arsenical treated wood is exempted from being a hazardous waste?



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