How to Dispose of Hazardous Waste Properly

Updated: October 7, 2020

Hazardous waste doesn’t belong in the weekly trash.

With legal regulations from the federal to local levels, knowing the basics of hazardous waste disposal will not only help you avoid fines but also is critical to preventing any harm to your health and to the environment.

While we know materials like paint and batteries should be disposed of separately from regular trash, more threatening forms of biological waste, especially from death or other trauma, require professional help to remove.

What is Hazardous Waste?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines hazardous waste as, “waste with properties that make it dangerous or capable of having a harmful effect on human health or the environment.  Hazardous waste can contain dangerous chemicals, heavy metals, dangerous pathogens or other toxic materials. They can be released from regular activity in places such as factories, hospitals, and laboratories, or come in the form of bloodborne pathogens as a result of a trauma or crime scene.

Biohazardous waste, such as human body fluids, blood or animal waste, is especially threatening to our health. It should be cleaned up by a professional service that can comply with safety and health standards.

The 4 Characteristics of Hazardous Waste

The EPA categorizes hazardous waste by four criteria:

  • Toxicity: if something is poisonous and can pose dangers to water supplies or other infrastructure/environment.
  • Ignitability: if something is dangerously flammable (eg. solids that can spontaneously combust, liquids such as alcohol, gasoline, etc.)
  • Reactivity: if something is explosive in nature. This is one of the more complex criteria, but include any materials that can explode when coming into contact with water or if it secretes toxic gasses.
  • Corrosivity:  if something can rust, decompose, or eat through materials (eg. sulfuric and nitric acids, rust removers, etc.)


Rules on Hazardous Waste Disposal

Failing to properly dispose of hazardous materials can leave you with a hefty fine. The EPA is the main oversight on hazardous waste disposal, but state and local governments can also have specific regulations around it. If you’re in a situation that requires professional waste disposal, the company should be fully licensed, equipped, and trained to meet these standards.

Any container that has the words DANGER, WARNING, CAUTION, CORROSIVE, or FLAMMABLE should be treated as hazardous waste and requires professional disposal practices. Many cities have special hotlines for hazardous waste, so look up your local waste management facility or municipal service.

For hazardous waste caused by unattended death, suicide, homicide, or other forms of blood spillage, contact a professional biohazard remediation company such as Aftermath Services.

Waste Disposal Options

Options and regulations for hazardous waste disposal depend on your city or town, and there are different facilities equipped for taking certain kinds of hazmat. The disposal method will depend entirely upon the type of hazardous materials in question — many hazardous wastes can be recycled safely, while others may need to be incinerated. However, the EPA has created specialized procedures for certain wastes including:

  • Academic lab waste
  • Cathode ray tubes
  • Mixed radiological waste
  • Pharmaceutical waste
  • Used oil

Some cities have collection days specifically for common forms of hazardous waste, but for biohazardous waste, it’s important to use a service legally able to package it and transport it to the right facility.

Typically, the waste will be disposed of through incineration. Other options for disposal include chemical disinfection, autoclaving (steam sterilization), and irradiation.

Aftermath Services: Biohazard Remediation Experts Available 24/7

If someone dies in your home or property, it’s critical to seek out professional help from a cleanup company that is licensed in hazardous waste removal. If waste is not properly removed, it can pose severe health risks and even be life-threatening. Blood and bodily fluids, however small in volume, can present health risks, so use professional cleanup services to thoroughly disinfect your home or business. The health safety of your family or business comes first.

Aftermath Services offers professional crime and trauma cleanup, which includes the appropriate packaging, transport, and disposal of hazardous waste. With rapid emergency response, Aftermath technicians are available 24/7 to quickly return your home to a safe and livable condition. Call 877-698-6169 for immediate help today.

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