Hazardous wastes come from various human activities. These include manufacturing, transportation, and medical practices. Improper disposal of hazardous wastes can result in tragedies. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency governs the disposal of hazardous wastes. State environmental agencies work with the EPA to ensure proper hazardous waste disposal.
Types of hazardous waste
There are many types of hazardous waste but they all fall into four general categories.
These chemicals deteriorate tissue and metals. The most common type of corrosive waste is acid.
These wastes are highly-flammable. These are very dangerous because of fire hazards. They can also release toxic fumes that are as fatal as the risk of fire.
These substances can explode when they come into contact with other chemicals. They can also release poisonous fumes when they get exposed to other chemical types.
These wastes are poisonous to humans and animals. Toxic wastes are dangerous when absorbed or inhaled. These are even more dangerous when ingested.
It is vital to know what type of hazardous waste you are dealing with to know how to dispose of it. There are many qualified environmental management companies nowadays. They can transport and dispose of these wastes.
Improper disposal of hazardous waste can cause serious health problems. Those who consume contaminated water, air, or food can become very sick and even end up dying. Those who get exposed to hazardous wastes can have cancer, nerve damage, birth defects, and other illnesses.
Methods of disposal
There are four common methods of disposing of hazardous wastes.
This is the oldest and most common method of hazardous waste disposal. After collecting the waste, it gets thrown to a dumping site. Landfills for hazardous wastes are either excavated or engineered. These are usually lined with double layers of non-porous material. This helps avert the leaching of waste into the ground.
This method burns hazardous wastes into an incombustible residue. Areas with minimal space for landfills usually use this method. The first step is the detoxification of the wastes. This reduces the release of toxic gases into the atmosphere. Hazardous wastes are then placed in enclosed devices and burned. The operating expenses are more costly than landfills.
Dumping at sea
Depositing hazardous wastes in the deep sea minimizes its impact on groundwater sources. These wastes undergo treatment first before getting dumped. It minimizes threats to marine life. It is a regulated method. There are some areas that already banned this method to preserve water resources.
This method is the most ideal choice for radioactive wastes. These hazardous wastes include those from lab experiments and medical treatments. Underground disposal is only done in partially active and inactive mines. These should meet particular technical and geological criteria.