Understanding the type of waste your company generates is imperative. This is because you will be better placed handling the waste without flouting the rules set by the EPA and thus avoid hefty penalties. One of the wastes heavily regulated is hazardous waste.

This encompasses all solid, liquid and gaseous waste with a dangerous effect on the environment or human and animal health. The EPA and companies dealing with hazardous waste disposal in Utah further categorize it based on four characteristics.

These include toxicity, ignitability, reactivity, and corrosivity. There are biological, physical and chemical methods of managing hazardous waste regardless of its characteristics — physical treatment methods center on separating hazardous waste from non-hazardous waste.

They include flotation, sedimentation, filtration, screening, and centrifugation. Chemical hazardous waste management techniques are however among the most effective. Here is some information on the processes involved.

Oxidation

This is a process of the reduction of toxic waste. Chemical bonds are broken in oxidation through the passage of waste in different reactants to generate non-hazardous solutions. Chemical oxidation is commonly used for the treatment of cyanides produced by metal finishing factories.

In the process, the cyanide is first converted to cyanate which is minimally toxic by mixing it with chlorine. The cyanate is then further chlorinated to form harmless nitrogen and carbon dioxide gases.

Neutralization

All hazardous waste with a pH of below 2 or above 12.5 is corrosive. Neutralization reduces the alkalinity or acidity levels of hazardous waste through mixing it with an acid or base to generate a neutral solution.

Acidic solutions are generally neutralized through the addition of slaked lime. Alkaline ones are mixed with sulfuric acid or bubbled through carbon dioxide. Most chemical waste treatment processes will require neutralization of hazardous waste before treating it.

Precipitation

This is a process of removing all soluble compounds particularly heavy metals from a hazardous waste stream. A chemical known as a precipitate such as caustic soda or lime is added to the solution and reduces the solubility of dangerous particles.

This reduction causes them to solidify and settle at the container’s bottom from where they are collected after the filtration of the liquid.

Ion Exchange

This treatment process is most suitable for the removal of organic material ions from solutions. The solution containing the ions passes over a resin bed where the inorganic material ions are removed. The resin bed can be regenerated from time to time using a caustic solution to maintain its potency.

De-Chlorination

Men checking barrel chemical

This involves the stripping of chlorine atoms from chlorinated compounds. The compounds passes through a metallic sodium reagent which breaks the bond and forms harmless compounds.

The common compound treated this way is polychlorinated biphenyl used in cable insulation, transformers, fluorescent lights, and electrical equipment.

Proper hazardous waste management starts long before the above chemical processes transform the waste into harmless compounds. Correct segregation of the waste in your company is the first step towards its proper disposal and treatment. The waste should also be transported to the treatment facility in vehicles specially designed for this task.

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