Hazardous Waste Determination

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) authorizes the USEPA to regulate hazardous waste. The resources below can assist laboratories in making proper hazardous waste determinations for USEPA-regulated chemical waste.

Click the links to see corresponding lists of commonly generated laboratory chemical wastes. Please also refer to the definitions of RCRA Hazardous Wastes.  

Chemical wastes categorized as “non-hazardous” are not regulated as hazardous under RCRA; however, these wastes are not suitable for drain disposal and therefore must be collected.

Non-Hazardous Waste
Hazardous Waste

A RCRA characteristic hazardous waste exhibits at least one of four characteristics as defined below:

  • Ignitability: liquids with flash points below 60 °C (140 °F), non-liquids that cause fire through specific conditions, flammable compressed gases and oxidizers. Common examples include used solvents, alcohols, and alkali metals.
  • Corrosivity: aqueous wastes with a pH of less than or equal to 2, a pH greater than or equal to 12.5 or based on the liquid’s ability to corrode steel. Examples include acids and bases, including hydroxides and amines.
  • Reactivity: Wastes that may be unstable under normal conditions, may react with water, may give off toxic gases and may be capable of detonation or explosion under normal conditions or when heated. Examples include pyrophoric material and sulfide generating compounds.
  • Toxicity: Wastes that are harmful when ingested or absorbed. Toxic wastes present a concern as they may be able to leach from waste and pollute groundwater.  Examples include heavy metals (lead, cadmium, barium, etc.), and cyanides and salts.

Laboratories generating chemical wastes which do not fall into these categories should collect the waste and check off the “Non-Hazardous” box on the orange hazardous waste label.

For further assistance in hazardous waste determination, please contact [email protected].