Hazardous waste requires stringent measures for collection, treatment, and disposal. The waste takes the form of liquids, solids, and gases. Ordinarily, improper handling of hazardous waste poses a significant threat to human health and environmental safety. Thus, government agencies are very keen on regulating how companies and individuals manage hazardous waste. Often, improper management practices may result in hefty penalties. Because of the risk, you may need to outsource hazardous waste disposal services. This post focuses on hazardous waste management practices.
Types of Hazardous Waste
There are different categorizations of hazardous waste. The classification depends on the chemical, physical, and biological attributes of the trash. The following are the major types of hazardous waste:
- Toxic waste — poisons that cause death and illnesses
- Reactive waste — unstable chemicals that cause violent reactions when exposed to water or air
- Ignitable waste — highly flammable materials
- Corrosive wastes — products with acidic or alkaline properties that corrode materials and tissues due to chemical reactions
- Infectious waste — biomedical waste
- Radioactive waste — harmful ionizing energy that takes thousands of years to decay
Risks of Hazardous Waste
Due to the properties listed above, hazardous waste poses several risks to humans and the environment. These risks arise due to poor handling and inappropriate disposal of hazardous waste. For instance, hazardous waste contributes to the spread of diseases and injuries when they contact human tissues. A typical example is a toxic waste that may be carcinogenic and biomedical wastes that carry infectious microbial organisms.
Another major risk is fire, which arises from mixing incompatible wastes. Essentially, highly ignitable and corrosive waste causes or accelerates fire due to reactivity with water, air, and other chemical compounds. More so, poor disposal of hazardous waste leads to environmental degradation. This scenario occurs when hazardous waste contaminates air through emissions and water or soil due to seepage.
Hazardous Waste Management Methods
There are several treatment methods for disposing of hazardous waste. These methods vary with the type and quantity of waste. Ordinary, the best approach to waste management is reduction and recycling. However, these solutions are not a comprehensive remedy. Broadly, hazardous waste treatments use chemical, thermal, biological, and physical methods. For instance, chemical methods include oxidation, reduction, and ion exchange. Then, there are thermal methods such as incineration to destroy the waste. Again, biological treatment like land-farming involves mixing waste with soil on a tract of land and introducing microbes for metabolism. Moreover, physical treatment may include evaporation, sedimentation, and filtration methods to reduce the volume of hazardous waste.
Hazardous waste can cause chronic toxicity lasting for a long duration. Thus, safety and occupational standards require one to explore appropriate hazardous waste treatment and disposal alternatives.