Universal and Household Hazardous Wastes

Hazardous chemicals can be found in nearly every home and business.  The chemicals that are generally used as cleaners and coatings can cause injury if they are ignitable, corrosive, toxic or reactive.  When these products from private residences are no longer needed or have expired, the EPA classifies them as Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and special handling and disposal procedures need to be followed.

Lighter fluid, linseed oil, lawnmower gasoline, paint and varnishes are all examples of ignitable wastes that are commonly found in households.   Bleach, ammonia, drain cleaners, lime and calcium removers and some concentrated soaps are corrosive, which makes them effective at removing dirt and grit buildup but also makes them harmful when they come in contact with skin.  Also, when these products are mixed with each other they may react and release fumes that can irritate or damage the respiratory tract.  Two types of chlorine used in swimming pools, (tri chlor and di chlor) when mixed together violently react and explode.  Chlorine and fuel also react and cause fire.  Lawn fertilizers and gasoline can also react; if mixed, and cause severe damage to persons or buildings.

As Household Hazardous Waste, these products should not be released into the environment or put with household trash.  Many cities and municipalities offer free disposal of Household Hazardous Waste for their residents at collection centers or mobile events (See links below for DFW area).  If these same hazardous wastes come from a business, they are not considered household hazardous waste and must be disposed of through a licensed contractor like any other hazardous waste.

The EPA also has a classification for Universal Wastes, which are widely generated by homes and businesses.  These wastes are regulated under 40 CFR part 273 and include batteries, light bulbs, mercury containing equipment and pesticides.  These wastes are exempt from reporting and other requirements needed for hazardous wastes but they must still be recycled or disposed of properly.

Since universal and hazardous wastes should not be disposed of with municipal waste and should never be mixed together or added to other materials, it is wise to contact a reputable and professional company to handle disposal.  Protect Environmental is ready to help businesses categorize, consolidate and manage their wastes in a way that is economical, limits liability and keeps hazardous chemicals out of the environment.

 

Fort Worth Environmental Collection Center:

http://fortworthtexas.gov/env/ecc/

 

Dallas Household Hazardous Waste Program:

http://www.dallascounty.org/department/plandev/hhw_intro.php

Overview of Spill Regulations in the state of Texas

No matter what companies try to do to avoid chemical spills, unforeseen factors will lead to accidental releases of chemicals or materials into the environment.  The Federal and state governments have many rules regarding how spills of hazardous and non-hazardous materials should be handled.  In the state of Texas, the regulations for spills and required actions are described in 30 TAC Chapter 327 and 30 TAC Chapter 327.5 respectively.

These laws require that areas impacted by a spill must be restored to prerelease conditions, meaning the spilled material must be completely removed by methods that can include excavating impacted soil and bringing in clean soil and grass to replace it.  If a spill cleanup will take more than 180 days, the project must follow the requirements specified by the Texas Risk Reduction Program (TRRP) in 30 TAC Chapter 350.

The person or company responsible for the required cleanup of spills include but are not limited to the owner or operator of the facility, truck, train or vessel that released the material into the environment.  If the responsible party of a spill is deemed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to be unwilling or unable to adequately respond, the TCEQ will utilize state funds to take over the cleanup operation and ensure completion.  Although the state pays for the cleanup in these cases, the Texas Water Code 26.266 gives the TCEQ the mandate to seek reimbursement from the responsible party as well as administrative and legal fees.  The TCEQ may also file criminal charges against the responsible party for lack of responsive action or unsatisfactory cleanup.

Along with being financially liable for a spill cleanup, the responsible party must complete the proper reporting regarding the corrective actions taken.  The TCEQ has established reportable quantities of various chemicals and materials for spills onto land or water and if the material spilled meets or exceeds these quantities, the responsible party must notify the TCEQ.  Although reporting spills under the reportable quantity may not be required, it’s a good idea for the responsible party to notify the TCEQ anyway in case the impacted area is contaminated from a previous spill that wasn’t reported. Regardless of the quantity of spilled material it still must be cleaned up to the state or property owner’s satisfaction.

If a spill is large enough to require reporting, the responsible party has thirty days to send a follow-up report to the TCEQ.  This report must explain in detail the response actions taken including the extent of contamination, the response chronology, any injuries or fatalities, weather conditions and what wastes were generated and how and where the wastes were  disposed of.  If work on the spill is still ongoing by the thirty day mark, the responsible party may request an extension for up to six months from the date of the spill to complete cleanup activities.  The request must include reasons for the request and the projected work schedule.  Once the request is submitted, the responsible party must follow the work schedule unless instructed otherwise by the TCEQ Regional Director with authority over the area where the spill occurred.

There are many other actions that need to be taken when an accidental discharge into the environment occurs.  That’s why Protect Environmental has the trained staff and equipment needed to help a responsible party follow complicated state and federal regulations and ensure they don’t face potentially severe civil and criminal penalties. Protect’s experience allows the customer to know the rules will be followed and the costs will as low as possible.

Why Blood Borne Pathogens Matter

Some of the greatest hazards are the ones that can’t be seen.  Blood borne pathogens are biological agents that can be present in blood and cause disease in humans.  Some of the most common blood borne pathogens are HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.  When a person who carries these microorganisms has an injury and their blood contaminates open surfaces, there is a risk that other people who come in contact with the blood may contract the disease themselves and the consequences of infection can range from having to take costly medications to death.

Unlike other types of spills, the hazards of a blood spill are not visibly obvious so every precaution must be taken when cleaning up biological material.  The host may not even know that they are infected so there is no realistic way of telling if a blood impacted surface contains biological hazards.  Some bacteria and viruses can survive for days or even weeks in the open; waiting to find a host to infect and propagate.  Also, with the increased number of bacteria strains that are resistant to antibiotics, the consequences of infection can now be more severe.  That’s why blood spills should be handled by trained professionals like the decon teams at Protect Environmental.  These specially trained responders know how to decontaminate surfaces thoroughly and effectively.

There are many scenarios where blood and bodily fluids can be released and pose a hazard to the health of others.  Car wrecks, homicides, suicides and workplace accidents are all unfortunate incidents that occur quite often and can take place anywhere.  Proper decontamination, handling and disposal of bio hazardous wastes is the most important thing that can be done after a tragedy to protect other lives and mitigate the spread of infectious diseases.

HUBNFPA Member