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Characteristic Waste

Is Your Solid Waste a Characteristic Waste?

If your waste is not listed (a listed waste) in 40 CFR Part 261, it may still be a hazardous waste. The next step is to see if your waste is a characteristic hazardous waste. Solid wastes that are not directly listed in 40 CFR Part 261 may still be hazardous. EPA uses a classification system based on the four characteristics of solid wastes. If a material exhibits at least one of these characteristics, it is classified as a hazardous waste. The four characteristics are listed as follows:

A substance is ignitable if it displays any of the following properties.
A liquid with a flashpoint of less than 60? C (140? F);
A non-liquid that is capable, under standard temperature and pressure, of causing fire through friction, absorbtion of moisture, or spontaneous chemical changes, and when ignited, burns so vigorously and persistently that it creates a hazard;
An ignitable compressed gas;
An oxidizer (such as a chlorate or peroxide).
Details on the ignitability characteristic are included in 40 CFR 261.21.

A substance is corrosive if it displays any of the following properties:
An aqueous material with a pH less than or equal to 2 or greater than or equal to 12.5;
A liquid that corrodes steel at a rate of at least 0.25 inches per year at 55? C (130? F); NOTE: A waste that is not aqueous and contains no liquid falls outside the definition of EPA corrosivity.
Details on the corrosivity characteristic are included in 40 CFR 261.22.

A substance is reactive if it displays any of the following properties.
Normally unstable and readily undergoes violent change without detonating;
Reacts violently with water;
Forms potentially explosive mixtures with water;
A cyanide or sulfide bearing waste which can generate fumes in a quantity sufficient to present a danger to human health.
Capable of detonation
A forbidden explosive, or a Class A or Class B explosive, as defined in Department of Transportation regulations in 49 CFR Part 173.
Details on the reactivity characteristic are included in 40 CFR 261.23.

A substance is toxic if it exceeds the concentrations for contaminants listed in the "Maximum Concentration of Contaminants for the Toxicity Characteristic" table, presented in 40 CFR 261.24. A specific test, the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) must be conducted to determine if the waste is classified as toxic. Details on the toxicity characteristic are included in 40 CFR 261.24.

EPA designates specific, standardized test methods that are to be used when determining the characteristics of a waste. These techniques are listed in the above mentioned sections.

Is the solid waste a characteristic hazardous waste?

If YES - the waste is a characteristic it is regulated under RCRA Subtitle C.

If NO - go to Listed Waste Page

Last modified: Sept.
1, 2013


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Last modified: Nov, 2017

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