What Are The Types of Hazardous Waste?

Types of hazardous waste and how they are classified

Generally hazardous waste will possess at least one of the four identifying characteristics for classification purposes. The four characteristics are ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity. So in order for waste to be deemed “hazardous”, it generally falls into at least one of these categories and is defined by the EPA along with disposal methods. The following lists of wastes are provided by the EPA:

» The F-list (non-specific source wastes). This list identifies wastes from common manufacturing and industrial processes, such as solvents that have been used in cleaning or degreasing operations. Because the processes producing these wastes can occur in different sectors of industry, the F-listed wastes are known as wastes from non-specific sources.

Examples of placards used to label hazardous materials in transport.

Examples of placards used to label hazardous materials in transport.

» The K-list (source-specific wastes). This list includes certain wastes from specific industries, such as petroleum refining or pesticide manufacturing. Certain sludges and wastewaters from treatment and production processes in these industries are examples of source-specific wastes.

» The P-list and the U-list (discarded commercial chemical products). These lists include specific commercial chemical products in an unused form. Some pesticides and some pharmaceutical products become hazardous waste when discarded.

What types of businesses generate hazardous waste?

Listed are a few examples. However, any business can potentially produce hazardous waste that needs to be properly handled and disposed of. Examples include solvents, freon, filters, fluorescent bulbs, batteries, and aerosol cans. Below are a few examples of types of businesses that tend to generate more waste than average. The larger producers of hazardous waste are not listed here such as oil or petroleum refineries, chemical manufacturers and electroplating companies.

Dry cleaners using PERC and other hazardous waste

Dry cleaners produce perchloroethylene (perc). In fact, the largest U.S. user of PERC is the dry cleaning industry. Textile mills, chlorofluorocarbon producers, vapor degreasing and metal cleaning operations, and makers of rubber coatings also use PERC. It can be added to aerosol formulations, solvent soaps, printing inks, adhesives, sealants, polishes, lubricants, and silicones. Typewriter correction fluid and shoe polish are among the consumer products that can contain PERC. Breathing PERC for short periods of time can adversely affect the human nervous system and causes other adverse conditions. [1] Other examples of hazardous wastes found in dry cleaning facilities include: sludge, lint, wastewater, solvents, filters, and aerosol cans.

Hospital Hazardous Waste Chemicals

By some estimates, hospitals in the United States can generate more than 7000 tons of hazardous waste per day. The following are just a few examples of hospital waste chemicals and do not include sharps, infectious, pathological, radioactive categories nor the vast amount of pharmaceuticals.

A few examples of chemical and pharmaceutical waste produced by hospitals

Trichloroethylene (tri, TCE, trike, trichlor, tricky) – commonly used as an industrial solvent. A colorless liquid which is used as a solvent for cleaning metal parts. Drinking or breathing high levels of trichloroethylene may cause nervous system effects, liver and lung damage, abnormal heartbeat, coma, and possibly death.
Chlorambucil (leukeran) – A chemotherapy drug used for the treatment of specific types of cancer like low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, Waldenström macroglobulinaemia, and Hodgkin lymphoma. Potential occupational exposure may occur from skin contact or inhalation of dust during the formulation, packaging, and administration of the pharmaceutical.[2] Hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation. Severe over-exposure can result in death.
Epinephrine (adrenalin) – Epinephrine is a chemical that narrows blood vessels and opens airways in the lungs and is used frequently in hospitals. It may cause abnormally low blood pressure, which is a serious side effect to an overdose of epinephrine. Epinephrine is a highly addictive substance.
Barium (Ba) – Barium is a soft silvery metallic alkaline earth metal that reacts violently with water. Barium powder can explode in contact with air or oxidizing gases or when combined with certain solvents.in the form of a Barium Meal, Barium Sulphate, BaSO4, is used in hospitals for X-Rays.
Daunomycin (daunomycin, daunomycin cerubidine) – A chemotherapy drug used primarily for the treatment leukaemia and types of cancer usually administered in concert with other types of chemotherapy drugs and treatment. Mutagens may be evidenced in the handler of this substance, [ref], however results of short-term or long-term exposure are not listed here.
Nitrogen Mustard (HN-1, HN-2, and HN-3) – Nitrogen mustards have been used in the treatment of cancer. Exposure includes skin contact, eye contact, or breathing the substance. Tremors, incoordination, and seizures are possible following a large exposure. The prototype nitrogen mustard drug is mustine, which is no longer commonly in use. It was the first anticancer chemotherapeutic drug. It is a schedule 1 substance in the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Automobile Repair Shop Hazardous Waste

Automotive repair shops often generate hazardous wastes. If improperly managed, these wastes may threaten worker safety, damage the environment, or put an entire community at risk. Shop wastes can pollute drinking water supplies if poured on the ground, down the drain or in a trash dumpster. Some may cause serious health problems if indiscriminately handled or discarded. For example, antifreeze contains the substance ethylene glycol which is toxic and may be attractive to children or animals due to its sweet taste. Carburetor cleaners contain methylene chloride that’s toxic, persistent, and carcinogenic. One of the single largest uses of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the United States is as a refrigerant in automobile air conditioners. These CFCs are more commonly known as freon when released into the atmosphere, contributes to ozone loss. Lead acid batteries pose a potential threat to human health and the environment if improperly discarded. The two main components of these batteries are sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and lead. Sulfuric acid is highly corrosive, and lead has been linked to central nervous system damage in humans and animals. When improperly managed, scrap tires pose a threat to public health and the environment. Waste tires are a preferred breeding site for the Asian Tiger mosquito, which is known to transmit various strains of encephalitis. Tire piles are also a serious fire hazard. [3]

Also, exterminators and photo processing centers tend to generate large amounts of hazardous waste.

Hazardous Waste Services include:

Hazardous wastes require handling and disposal by trained experts.


Bioremediation is the treatment of organic chemicals with microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and yeast) to break them down into less toxic or non-toxic materials. Focused on contaminated soils, depending on the quantity of the waste and nature of the contamination.


Microencapsulation of hazardous waste involves coating the debris with sealing agents that prevent them from interacting chemically with the surrounding environment. Microencapsulation is the preferred treatment for smaller-sized debris.


Macroencapsulation is the process of placing hazardous debris in a special one-piece containment unit. The lid is welded shut, the treated debris is placed in a Subtitle “C” Landfill for safe, permanent disposal. Macroencapsulation is appropriate for virtually any hazardous debris that fits in a 20-cubic-yard roll-off box.

Related: How to Dispose of Old Gasoline



2. Chlorambucil CAS No. 305-03-3 Known to be a human carcinogen – First Listed in the Second Annual Report on Carcinogens (1981)

3. MANAGING AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR SHOP WASTE: A GUIDE FOR AUTOMOTIVE REPAIR SHOP OPERATORS, 1995. Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet Department for Environmental Protection Division of Waste Management