If you’re watching the news right now, one of the most dangerous examples of hazardous waste is nuclear waste. This can cause radiation sickness that can lead to serious life-threatening conditions and even death.
Hazardous waste, by definition, is any material that poses a substantional or potential threat to the environment or health of the general public. In the United States, hazardous waste displays one of the following characteristics: ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, toxicity, infectious or pathogenic; or is a substance that appears on one of the four harzardous waste lists. (F-list, K-list, P-list, or U-list) Substances on these lists include commerical chemicals, solvents from cleaning or degreasing, and waste from petroleum refining or pesticide manufacturing. Batteries, pesticide, light bulbs and mercury-containing equipment are also forms of hazardous waste.
There are many different types of hazardous wastes. The Environmental Protection Agency categorizes wastes by type. Some examples of what are called universal wastes are batteries, pesticides and bulbs from lamps.
Some other common examples of hazardous waste include industrial solvents used to degrease machinery parts in factories, on airplanes, etc. Dry-cleaners soak clothes in perchloroethylene, a cleaning solvent that often is drained into water supplies and can be hazardous when consumed over long periods of time. Heavy metals like lead, cadmium, and arsenic are used in industrial manufacturiing and can contaminate soil and water (paint manufacturers use lead and cadmium). Dioxins are another common hazardous waste produced by paper mills that use chlorine to bleach paper.
Hazardous wastes include old medicines, paints and solvents, chemicals, bulbs spray cans, fertilizer, pesticide, batteries, shoe polish, mercury-containing wastes, automative wastes, electronics (computers, televisions, cellphones), aerosols, caustics, refrigerant-containing appliances, batteries and ammunition.
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