Hazardous waste treatment is comprised of any process that changes the chemical, physical, or biological composition of a dangerous or potentially harmful agent in order to make it less of a threat to the environment and human beings. Some forms of hazardous waste treatment involve making the materials safer for transport, using them for the production of energy, or neutralizing them through chemical or other means. This specialized treatment is important in preventing contamination of the environment.
Incineration is a common method of hazardous waste treatment. This is used for both biological and non-biological items. The intense heat changes the chemical structure of many items and also frees up more room in landfills and other hazardous waste storage facilities. In some cases, the burning of hazardous waste may be used to generate energy.
There are various places where waste may be taken to be incinerated. Kilns, fluidized bed units, and liquid injection units are all specialized tools to incinerate hazardous waste. This type of hazardous waste treatment generally neutralizes or destroys any harmful compounds in the waste, making it safe for general disposal or burial. In cases where this is not possible, specialized holding tanks or storage units may be used.
Another type of hazardous waste treatment involves treatment or purification by using chemical agents. This type of treatment is generally used in the cleaning of sewer water. Solid wastes are filtered out of the water and agents like chlorine are added to kill any bacteria or other dangerous biological contaminants. Then the water is filtered to remove all but trace amounts of the chemicals to make the water safe for drinking.
Hazardous waste treatment may also involve the proper storage and disposal of various types of hazardous waste. If an item cannot be incinerated, such as those which contain metal compounds, then storage may be the best and most feasible option. Hazardous waste may be stored in leak-proof and airtight containers and then buried, stored in a landfill, or placed in another specialized location. Other times, they are stored until they can be filtered and neutralized with chemicals or biological materials that may help break them down.
Most nations have strict government regulations in place to dictate how waste should be treated. Homeowners who have hazardous waste materials such as old batteries, household cleaning agents, or automotive fluids should not try to dispose of these items themselves. They should be stored in leak-proof containers and taken to the nearest facility where they will be properly treated or stored. These facilities can be found by contacting environmental agencies or the manufacturers of these goods.