Postprint version. Published in The Engineering Handbook, January 1, 1996, pages 958-990.
Hazardous waste management is a broad and evolving field. Applicable state and federal regulations comprising over 60,000 pages are continually being updated. Many of these regulations overlap and are subject to differences in interpretation that often lead to court rulings. Regulations, economic pressures and public perception are forcing companies to rapidly change the way they manufacture products in order to minimize hazardous waste generation. Over 200 million tons of solid hazardous waste are generated annually in the United States. Huge quantities of hazardous waste deposited in landfills, ponds, fields, and other locations require removal or in situ treatment. Common hazardous wastes include: Solvents, acids, bases, heavy metals, pesticides, plating and heat treating wastes. Six major effects of improper hazardous waste management are: groundwater contamination, contamination of surface runoff, air pollution, fire and explosion, adverse health effects via direct contact, and via the food chain. This chapter provides a general overview of federal regulations governing hazardous waste management, as well as a brief review of the types of hazardous waste, waste minimization, and treatment and disposal technologies. Four types of hazardous waste will be discussed here: chemical waste, radioactive waste, infectious waste, and mixed waste.
Civil and Environmental Engineering