Hazardous Waste

How we create, manage and dispose of Hazardous Waste

What constitutes hazardous materials?

Hazardous waste is waste that poses substantial or potential threats to public health or the environment. In the United States, the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

Legal Definition

Hazardous waste presents immediate or long-term risks to humans, animals, plants, or the environment. It requires special handling for detoxification or safe disposal. In the U.S., hazardous waste is legally defined as any discarded solid or liquid that

  • contains one or more of 39 carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic compounds at levels that exceed established limits (includingmany solvents, pesticides, and paint strippers);

  • catches fire easily (such as gasoline, paints, and solvents);

  • is reactive or unstable enough to explode or release toxic fumes (including acids, bases, ammonia, and chlorine bleach); or

  • is capable of corroding metal containers such as tanks, drums, and barrels (such as industrial cleaning agents and oven and drain cleaners).

2 Main Ways to Manage our Hazardous Waste

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

The objectives of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) are to protect human health and the environment from the potential hazards of waste disposal, to conserve energy and natural resources, to reduce the amount of waste generated, and to ensure that wastes are managed in an environmentally sound manner. RCRA regulates the management of solid waste (e.g., garbage), hazardous waste, and underground storage tanks holding petroleum products or certain chemicals.
Also called Superfund, refers to any area that needs regulating and clean up because of leaks or spills
- Love Canal
- Hinkley, CA
There are over 40,000 Superfund sites in the US

Top 10 Superfund Sites

Read through the link below to get an idea of all the hazardous areas currently in the US
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Watch the video to answer the questions:
1. What is e-waste?
2. Why is it becoming a bigger problem?
3. What are some ways to reduce e-waste (come up with on your own)?
E-waste: How big of a problem is electronic waste?