There are many difficulties associated with disposing of chemical waste. This is a complicated problem with serious repercussions if you get it wrong because of these difficulties. These consequences go beyond the potential harm a leak or spill can do; in fact, the authorities have the power to penalise polluters with large fines that have no upper limit.
Define Chemical Waste
Waste generated from chemicals is referred to as chemical waste. Large companies are the primary producers of chemicals. These potentially dangerous substances are frequently waste products from large-scale manufacturing facilities and research institutes.
Chemical wastes can be classified as hazardous, radioactive, or non-hazardous. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the organisation in charge of monitoring all matters related to chemical waste.
Properties Of Chemical Waste
Chemical waste can be extremely harmful to both the environment and living things. You cannot dump of such chemical wastes the same way you normally dispose of home trash. Knowing the properties of chemical waste can help us properly dispose of it. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) divides the properties of chemical waste into 4 categories. They are shown in the list below.
1.) Ignitability – Chemical waste has a personality factor ignitability that indicates whether or not it is flammable. Chemical waste comes in three different ignitable forms: liquids with a low flash point (about 60 OC), solids that spontaneously catch fire, and oxidisers and compressed gas. Gasoline, paint, and furniture polish are some examples of chemical waste that we can identify that has an ignitability property.
2.) Corrosivity – Chemical waste has a property known as corrosivity that determines whether or not it can rust (or decay) easily. Corrosive substances, such as nitric acid and sulphuric acid, can corrode metal containers, which could lead to a chemical leak of potentially dangerous substances.
3.) Reactivity – Chemical waste’s reactivity is a property that determines whether or not it is explosive. They are seen as the most dangerous group when considering their reaction instability. According to the EPA, there are too many different circumstances and situations to identify every sort of reactive chemical waste.
4.) Toxicity – Chemical wastes can be classified as toxic or not based on their level of toxicity. This property of chemical wastes may have long-term effects on the environment or human health. Pesticides and several household cleaning products are two examples of harmful chemical wastes.
Hazardous Effects Of Chemical Waste Disposal
The following are the harmful impacts of chemical waste in our everyday life:
A. Implications On Human Health
When exposed, chemical waste may have negative effects on human health. These chemical wastes can have an impact on people in a number of ways, including through eating, skin contact, and inhalation. Chemical wastes are easily able to spread their damaging effects because they can be found in and move via the water, air, and soil. They can easily spread their effects to the air we breathe because they are present in the air.
Chemical waste can harm human health through the food that people consume and the water that they drink, as we all know that chemical waste can make its way through water and soil and may infect the plants or crops that the farmer produces.
The implications of chemical wastes on human health can vary based on the type of chemicals, the individual’s exposure to the chemicals, the quantity of chemical waste to which they were exposed, the duration of their exposure, and the regularity of their exposure. The person’s experience with such consequences may also differ depending on that person’s age, gender, genetics, or specific health condition.
B. Impact On The Environment
Improper disposal of chemical waste can pollute the environment and cause contamination. Water pollution is the greatest short-term risk of this impact. Water that has been exposed to those dangerous compounds may become polluted.
Drinking it might become risky, and it might even be used for other things (such as agriculture). The long-term environmental effects of chemical wastes are also more dangerous. Animal mutation is one instance. Some creatures, like bees, may be known to play a significant part in fertilising plants.
Without all those animals, plants would struggle to grow or even die horribly. Some chemicals may even destroy the atmosphere, which causes the earth’s temperature to rise. These are the negative effects of chemical waste in our daily lives that we need to prevent.
Challenges In Chemical Waste Handling
Handling chemicals that have been sitting in storage for a long time presents difficulties. The labels are either no longer legible, do not meet current rules, or are completely absent. It is quite challenging to evaluate any type of chemical waste disposal when the information is not easily available.
In situations like this, the approach requires sending a sample of the chemical to a testing laboratory so that we can be certain we are disposing of the chemicals properly and in accordance with the proper regulations for health and safety.