Household Hazardous Waste (HHW), also referred to as domestic hazardous waste or home generated special materials, is a waste that is generated from residential households. HHW only applies to waste coming from the use of materials that are labeled for and sold for "home use". Waste generated by a company or at an industrial setting is not HHW.
The U.S. government provides several tools for mapping hazardous wastes to particular locations. These tools also allow the user to view additional information.
Historically, some hazardous wastes were disposed of in regular landfills. This resulted in unfavorable amounts of hazardous materials seeping into the ground. These chemicals eventually entered to natural hydrologic systems. Many landfills now require countermeasures against groundwater contamination. For example, a barrier has to be installed along the foundation of the landfill to contain the hazardous substances that may remain in the disposed waste. Currently, hazardous wastes must often be stabilized and solidified in order to enter a landfill and must undergo different treatments in order to stabilize and dispose of them. Most flammable materials can be recycled into industrial fuel. Some materials with hazardous constituents can be recycled, such as lead acid batteries.
The requirements of the RCRA apply to all the companies that generate hazardous waste as well as those companies that store or dispose hazardous waste in the United States. Many types of businesses generate hazardous waste. dry cleaners, automobile repair shops, hospitals, exterminators, and photo processing centers may all generate hazardous waste. Some hazardous waste generators are larger companies such as chemical manufacturers, electroplating companies, and oil refineries.
In the United States, the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste are regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Hazardous wastes are defined under RCRA in 40 CFR 261 where they are divided into two major categories: characteristic wastes and listed wastes.
A U.S. facility that treats, stores, or disposes of hazardous waste must obtain a permit for doing so under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Generators and transporters of hazardous waste must meet specific requirements for handling, managing, and tracking waste. Through the RCRA, Congress directed the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create regulations to manage hazardous waste. Under this mandate, the EPA developed strict requirements for all aspects of hazardous waste management including the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. In addition to these federal requirements, states may develop more stringent requirements that are broader in scope than the federal regulations. Furthermore, RCRA allows states to develop regulatory programs that are at least as stringent as RCRA and, after review by EPA, the states may take over responsibility for the implementation of the requirements under RCRA. Most states take advantage of this authority, implementing their own hazardous waste programs that are at least as stringent, and in some cases are more stringent than the federal program.
Hazardous waste may be sequestered in an hazardous waste landfill or permanent disposal facility. "In terms of hazardous waste, a landfill is defined as a disposal facility or part of a facility where hazardous waste is placed or on land and which is not a pile, a land treatment facility, a surface impoundment, an underground injection well, a salt dome formation, a salt bed formation, an underground mine, a cave, or a corrective action management unit (40 CFR 260.10)."
The table listing all hazardous materials regulated by the Act for transportation used to be at www.phmsa.dot.gov/staticfiles/PHMSA/DownloadableFiles/Files/Hazmat/Alpha_Hazmat_Table.xls.
Household hazardous waste (HHW), also referred to as "domestic hazardous waste," is waste that is generated from residential households. HHW only applies to wastes that are the result of the use of materials that are labeled for and sold for "home use" and that are purchased by homeowners or tenants for use in a residential household.
;Disposal of HHW Because of the expense associated with the disposal of HHW, it is still legal for most homeowners in the U.S. to dispose of most types of household hazardous wastes as municipal solid waste (MSW) and these wastes can be put in your trash. Laws vary by state and municipality and they are changing every day. Be sure to check with your local environmental regulatory agency, solid waste authority, or health department to find out how HHW is managed in your area.
The EPA defines hazardous waste as the following: A subset of solid wastes that pose substantial or potential threats to public health or the environment and meet any of the following criteria identified 40 CFR 260 and 261:
(Note: Yard waste or "green waste" (particularly "source-separated" yard waste such as from a city leaf collection program) is not hazardous but may be a regulated household waste)
Signed by President Bill Clinton on August 26, 1994, the purpose of the amendment was to broaden the "regulatory and enforcement authority of the Secretary of Transportation." The Secretary is given discretionary power to require anyone who transports hazardous materials through aircraft, rail, ship, or vehicle to register with the Department of Transportation who are not already under mandatory obligation to do so. Additionally, the amendment restructured the Act, reauthorizing funding for the HMTA and requiring additional safety initiatives to be taken by the Department of Transportation. Under this amendment, its underlying goal remained the same as the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act: to protect against the risks to life, property, and the environment during the transportation of hazardous materials.
Under the HMTUSA, the Secretary continues to enforce regulations for the safe transport of hazardous material in intrastate, interstate, and foreign commerce in the same manner as the HMTA. The Secretary also retains authority to classify hazardous materials, when "they pose unreasonable risks to health, safety, or property."
Additionally, states may have specific waste codes. For example, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control distinguishes discarded mercury-containing products and waste oil as separate groups of hazardous waste.
New provisions under this amendment were designed to "encourage uniformity among different state and local highway routing regulations, to develop criteria for the issuance of federal permits to motor carriers of hazardous materials, and to regulate the transport of radioactive materials."
Hazardous wastes (HWs) are typically dealt with in five different ways:
In 1990, Congress enacted the Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act (HMTUSA) in order to clarify the 1975 Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. This amendment sought to standardize international hazardous material transportation requirements as recommended by the United Nations, define preemption over local state regulations that differed from the Act's regulations, and to give more authority to the Secretary of Transportation in requiring registration of hazardous materials. Before the HMTUSA was passed, the Secretary's authority to require registration by all shippers of hazardous materials and by all parties involved in the preparation of shipment (manufacture, repair, testing, or sale) was never exercised.
The OHMS website includes OHM guidance documents, hazmat carriers' special permits and approvals information, reports and incidents summaries, penalty action reports, registration information and forms, the Emergency Response Guidebook for First Responders, Freedom of Information Act requests, and the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) grants program.
OHMS oversees the transportation of hazardous materials by air, rail, highway, and water, with the exception of bulk transportation of hazmat by vessel. OHMS promulgates a national safety program, which consists of: evaluating safety risks, developing and enforcing standards for transporting hazardous materials, educating shippers and carriers, investigating hazmat incidents and failures, conducting research, providing grants to improve emergency response to incidents.