The world is constantly growing , thus we generate multiple strategies in the face of millions of situations with which we must coexist, such as hazardous waste . That is why various institutions work every day with different strategies to combat the unpleasant consequences that misuse and neglect can cause when coming into contact with chemicals or products that have toxic and / or dangerous residues.
What is hazardous waste?
The hazardous wastes are substances that contain elements that can pose a hazard to both human health and for the environment . This type of waste is also harmful to natural resources so it must be treated with the utmost caution . Likewise, the containers in which they have been contained must be treated in the same way .
- Characteristics of hazardous waste
- How to reduce hazardous waste
- Management plans and management of hazardous waste in some countries
- Examples of hazardous waste
Characteristics of hazardous waste
The so-called hazardous wastes are all those solid, liquid or gaseous materials that, due to their composition, reaction capacity or combination with other substances, are potentially toxic and dangerous for health or the environment. Cyanide-based compounds, pharmaceutical waste, heavy metals, ether, and chemicals such as dyes and solvents are some pretty clear examples of this type of waste.
Not only is hazardous waste referred to as a set of waste that pollutes the environment in which human beings develop, but there are also a series of classifications with which we can better understand them, these are:
- Corrosive: these are elements that are capable of damaging the surface of certain metals, containers, barrels, etc.
- Flammable: are those that, under certain situations or circumstances, can cause a fire.
- Toxic: it is about those residues that contain high levels of toxicity and that are harmful if they are ingested or absorbed.
- Among the main causes is the industrial one since it is the large factories that produce the waste that later ends up in the environment.
- The demand by society for various products, for which their development depends on the use of highly toxic chemicals .
- The negligent handling of the residual compounds that are obtained after refinements or different chemical processes. Often, when these are discarded, they end up damaging the environment in a great way.
- Pollution of the environment, more specifically the land, air and bodies of water.
- The different combinations of chemicals, when discarded into the environment, may have adverse effects, which is why they end up producing mutations or creating new beings in it, which can be counterproductive for the natural balance.
- Hazardous waste will cause an increase in chemicals which in turn will cause resources such as water to become contaminated and unusable .
The excess chemicals such as:
- Arsenic : It can cause cardiovascular disease, “black foot” , and even cancer of the liver, bladder, skin and lung.
- Cyanides: If we ingest or inhale it, it can be lethal.
- Copper (Cu): Can cause nausea and vomiting.
- Nickel (Ni): It is carcinogenic and if we come into contact with it it can cause allergic dermatitis, pulmonary asthma and conjunctivitis.
- Sulfates: The alum , also known as ammonium sulfate, release toxic gases when decomposes to the increasing temperature. On the other hand, hydrogen sulfide causes annoying irritation to both the eyes and the mucous membranes. Lastly, cadmium sulfide is known to be carcinogenic .
How to reduce hazardous waste
- The amount of waste must be controlled, so that it seeks to prevent where it is generated.
- Take measures , both organizational and technological and operational , to minimize the impact and the amount of hazardous waste .
- Waste must enter into a social plan, where the recovery of these is promoted, where efficiency from an economic and environmental point of view is a viable scenario.
- Once the waste has harmed the environment or has had an impact on human and animal life, the treatment that seeks to reduce these as well as their mortality is necessary.
- All mortal waste must be accumulated in a place where its confinement can prevent it from having consequences.
Currently, to treat hazardous waste , a process consisting of three levels is carried out :
- Primary level: at this level , hazardous waste will be prepared so that it can be treated later.
- Secondary level: here the toxins contained in the different residues will be eliminated , leaving it free of dangerous elements.
- Final treatment level: consists of purifying the water before its subsequent discharge.
In order to treat hazardous waste , the following types of treatments are normally applied :
- Biological treatments.
- Physicochemical treatments.
- Heat treatments.
The incineration of hazardous waste is a thermal process whose purpose is the elimination of polluting elements . Three chambers come into play in this process, the primary one being a static chamber where the waste is incinerated at more than 800ºC . After that, the released gases are subjected, in the secondary and tertiary chamber, to temperatures exceeding 1100ºC . With this, it is achieved that the residues are the adequate time and at the precise temperature that the polluting elements require to be destroyed.
The transport of hazardous waste is a risky process that can have a detrimental effect on both people and the environment. That is why there are a large number of rules ranging from local to national that try to establish a protocol on its transport and handling. For example, in the case of Spain , it is established that those activities that must handle and transport hazardous waste must have the authorization of the competent body of the autonomous community in which the activity is carried out.
The storage of hazardous waste is a task that can have catastrophic consequences if a series of protocols are not followed:
- The first of all will be to have an area that will be used exclusively for the storage of this type of waste. This must also be free of elements that can cause accidents.
- The enabled area must always be ventilated so it must have a ventilation system that allows the air to be renewed.
- All those containers or containers in which the waste is to be kept must be suitably labeled, in addition, they must be solid and resistant to avoid possible leaks. Finally, those containers whose materials can form dangerous combinations when in contact with waste should be avoided.
However, no matter how many precautions we take when storing hazardous waste, there can always be accidents that cause them to spill. To avoid this, you must have spill containment systems such as the following:
- Fixed bucket: normally it is a cavity (it can also be a container) that, in the event of a leak or spillage of the stored toxic waste, will contain them, thus preventing them from spreading.
- Mobile bucket: in this case they are containers that can be moved from one place to another as needed. It has the advantage that it does not require any type of work for its use. Obviously, their material must be resistant and not allow combinations with the residues they must retain.
- Watertight manhole: it is a sloping, water-resistant surface that has an edge around it. Thanks to its inclination, the waste that spills will fall into the blind box from which it can be collected.
- Perimeter watertight grid: similar to the previous one but in this case the waste that is spilled will be directed, thanks to the slope, to a watertight perimeter grid.
Recycling of hazardous waste is possible and necessary . Currently there are different solutions, mainly shredding machines , which will facilitate the treatment of said waste. These shredding machines can be basic , volume-reducing and even complete installations exclusively dedicated to shredding and sorting waste.
In waste sorting systems, waste combustion systems, clinics, large restaurants, commercial and industrial centers, composting facilities or waste recycling facilities.
Management plans and management of hazardous waste in some countries
There are various companies that use strategies in that country to reduce hazardous waste , for example in the case of the Mexican Association of Automotive Distributors, they use a support manual with policies to follow to minimize waste generation that includes policies such as the acquisition of spare parts and supplies, supply of refractory materials and supplies to the company, operations within the company (these help reduce or counteract the loss of hazardous waste in cars).
The Mayor’s Office of Bogotá uses different actions in order to contribute to the improvement of the environmental performance of the same, for which the Comprehensive Solid Waste Management program guides training and awareness activities regarding the proper management and disposal of the waste generated within the Institute, aimed at preventing and reducing its generation from the source, especially those that have some dangerous condition , as established in the General Guidelines for the preparation of Comprehensive Waste or Hazardous Waste Management Plans by generators of the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development.
Examples of hazardous waste
- Batteries and batteries.
- Urban wastewater.
- Nuclear plant waste.
- Biological waste.
- Industrial wastewater.
- Iron filings.
- Glasses and crystals.
- Used fuel oils.
- Waste from mining.
- Industrial toxic gases.
- Oil and the like, etc.