Hazardous Waste in the United States
Hazardous Waste in Environmental Law
A hazardous substance regulated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Under that law, waste must be solid waste, but that term includes not only solids, but semisolids, liquids, and contained gases.
One definition of hazardous waste is a solid waste that may cause or significantly contribute to mortality or serious illness because of its concentration, quantity, physical or chemical characteristics. Hazardous waste is also solid waste that can cause a substantial hazard to health or the environment if it is improperly stored, treated, transported, disposed of, or managed.
The term hazardous waste does not include useful substances that have not been discarded or abandoned, even though they are hazardous. However, a substance does not have to be thrown away or burned before it is considered waste; its useful life must be over. It may also remain at the place it was created and still be a hazardous waste.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act exempts some materials from its definition, even though they might otherwise qualify as hazardous wastes. For example, household waste, agricultural wastes returned to the ground, mining overburden returned to the site, and utility wastes from coal burning are all excluded.
Wastes may be hazardous either because the specific substance is listed as hazardous by the EPA, or simply because it has characteristics, such as corrosivity, ignitability, reactivity, or toxicity, that make it hazardous. Therefore, a person can find out whether a waste is subject to the hazardous waste regulations by checking the lists and testing the substance for the four characteristics of hazardous wastes. See characteristic waste; listed waste.
The requirements for dealing with hazardous waste are extensive. If certain materials are recycled, they may not be subject to all of the regulations. For example, spent lead acid batteries, scrap metal, used oil, and precious metals are exempt from many requirements if they are recycled. Since the recycling process for hazardous wastes may also generate hazardous waste, the recycler will be subject to the hazardous waste regulations.
Based on “Environment and the Law. A Dictionary”.
Hazardous Waste in State Statute Topics
Introduction to Hazardous Waste (State statute topic)
The purpose of Hazardous Waste is to provide a broad appreciation of the Hazardous Waste legal topic. Select from the list of U.S. legal topics for information (other than Hazardous Waste).
- Information about Hazardous Waste in the Gale Encyclopedia of American Law.