No matter how proactive you might be about your hazardous waste and storage practices, sooner or later you will find some of this material will be unknown. Whether due to a mistake with poor labeling, improper storage, or another reason, it may not be clear what kind of waste you are dealing with as you explore your disposal options. Conducting tests on this hazardous waste is required by law before disposal can happen. Ignorance of what you’re dealing with will not be an acceptable excuse to the EPA and fines and penalties may result. Here are four of the most common hazardous waste tests you should know about.
1. Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure
The Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure, or TCLP, tests a material to determine whether it would be hazardous to the environment. It simulates the process of soil leaching in a landfill – according to the EPA, the TCLP is conducted to “determine the mobility of both organic and inorganic analytes present in liquid, solid, and multiphasic wastes”. In instances where the waste material is unknown, this is one of the most common tests done to determine its hazard level.
2. Flash Point
The flash point is the lowest temperature at which vapors of a material will ignite if an ignition source is present. Ignitability tests are done to determine this point for your unknown material and can shed some light on the ignitability of this material.
3. Polychlorinated Biphenyls
Otherwise known as PCBs, these are man-made organic chemicals consisting of carbon, chlorine, and hydrogen atoms. These materials were commonplace in industrial and commercial construction before being banned in 1979. Products such as adhesives, insulative material, and oil-based paints were made with PCBs before the ban, and so testing for them is common if you believe your materials may be from around this time.
4. pH Tests
Corrosive materials are among the most common hazardous wastes out there. So when you have an unknown liquid, a pH test is crucial to determine whether your material is something basic, like sodium hydroxide, or acidic like sulfuric acid.
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