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Hazardous waste includes any materials that are potentially harmful to human health or the environment. Hazardous wastes may be found in the form of liquids, solids or contained gases. These wastes are usually categorized as toxic, corrosive or flammable. The method of hazardous waste handling is typically determined by its type and hazard category; methods may include well-ventilated storage areas, proper storage container materials and knowing the proper waste disposal facility for a particular type of waste.
When attempting hazardous waste handling, it is important to be knowledgeable of the type of waste being handled. Toxic waste, such as chemicals, inorganic substances and organic compounds, typically need to be ventilated. If there are large quantities of toxic substances, then it is generally advisable to have a well-placed exhaust fan in the area where the waste is being handled.
When storing toxic materials, it is ideal to keep the smallest amount of waste possible in one storage container. Toxic wastes should be stored out of direct sunlight and in temperatures safe for the chemical being stored. Make sure storage containers are sealed at all times when not in use.
Following the proper procedures for disposing toxic materials is an essential part of hazardous waste handling. Toxic chemicals should not be flushed down sewers or sanitary drains, mixed with other materials or placed in regular garbage landfills. Consult local government regulations for instructions on how to use the appropriate local hazardous waste disposal facilities.
Hazardous waste handling of corrosive materials, such as alkalis, oxidizers and other acids, should also be done in well-ventilated areas. Corrosives may easily destroy holding containers, so make sure to use the proper storage unit for the waste. Before handling a container with corrosive materials, check to make sure there are no visible leaks or damage to the unit.
Corrosives should typically be stored in cool, dry areas and far from heat sources, such as pipes or boilers. When disposing corrosive materials, it is generally recommended to use the appropriate local hazardous waste dumping sites. It is important to closely follow the manufacturer’s instructions for disposing of the product. Local environmental offices should also be able to provide information for safely disposing corrosive materials.
Flammable hazardous waste typically contains gasoline, ethanol, acetone or nitromethane. When handling flammable hazardous waste, it is important to keep all materials away from open flames or spark-producing equipment. It is generally recommended to refrain from smoking and to use explosion-proof materials whenever possible.
When storing flammable materials, it is usually best to use containers that are self-closing and flame resistant. Hazardous waste collection companies are typically responsible for removing flammable hazardous waste. It is not advisable to attempt to reuse any hazardous waste containers, especially those that contained flammable materials.