The notion of public health has now become one of the most crucial in terms of the overall healthcare system management and securing a safe environment. Some of the most resonant fundamental public health issues today include socioeconomic inequality, global warming, and overall modern lifestyle patterns. However, the issue of environmental destruction is now causing major damage to both people and the planet’s well-being. Hazardous waste emission into the atmosphere is a prime example of a public health issue that requires immediate action regardless of location and economic situation in the community. The primary purpose of the following paper is to outline and analyze some of the major hazardous waste characteristics and methods of its management techniques.
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While the general idea of the hazardous waste definition is quite similar everywhere, the peculiarities of which substances are to be considered “hazardous” differ geographically. According to the researchers, one of the most exhaustive definitions of hazardous waste as outlined in 1989, indicates that the waste per se should be regarded as such if it contributed significantly to the mortality rate (Blackman, 2016). Hence, while many scholars and legislatures are doing their best to find a working definition, it is the issue of hazardous waste utilization management that matters the most in the context.
Since the very genesis of the public issue, community leaders were questioning the ways to deal with waste emission in the most efficient way. However, every beneficial utilization plan was quite costly in terms of the community’s economy, so the decision was made to collect the waste in one place and dump it, letting the substances soak into the soil (Blackman, 2016). Over time, such a negligent attitude to the issue has led to some disastrous results. Thus, while there is no appropriate definition that would help dwell upon the issue, some major hazardous waste characteristics should be outlined. They include:
- Ignitability. Substances that have a flashpoint less than 60°C are considered hazardous. Other peculiarities include unexpected combustion and ignitable compressed gases;
- Corrosivity. According to this criterion, waste is considered hazardous when corroded at a rate greater than established by the US Environmental Protection Agency;
- Reactivity. This aspect is related to the substances’ predisposition to violently interact with water or heat, making it dangerous to emit them into the atmosphere;
- Toxicity. The waste is considered hazardous when containing a toxicity level higher than established by the EPA (Grasso, 2017).
Once the following characteristics are met, the waste substance is then defined as hazardous, making it necessary to minimize its interaction with the environment. The substances are then divided into four major lists compiled by the EPA:
- F and K lists. These lists deal with hazardous industrial waste, whereas the F-list deals with common waste from non-specific sources, and the K-list manages specific industry sectors that produce hazardous waste.
- P and U lists. The P-list encompasses acute hazardous wastes from commercial chemical products, while the U-list deals with hazardous wastes in the segment specifically (EPA, 2020).
After dealing with substance identification, the EPA’s primary goal was to estimate how the control should be taken over securing safe waste transportation and disposal. As a result, the hazardous waste manifest system was established. The system itself is responsible for tracking hazardous substances from the moment they were removed from the production facility up to the moment when it is transported to the area where it is meant to be stored or liquidated (EPA, 2020). In such a way, all the hazardous substances are accounted for with the help of special manifest forms.
To minimize the disastrous impact on the environment, the EPA has identified several major types of landfills that are supposed to store only specific types of hazardous waste substances. Besides solid waste municipal landfills, which are the most widespread landfill types, there are industrial and hazardous waste landfills (EPA, 2020). The former accounts for the disposal of industrial debris exclusively and is generally divided into two major types: construction and demolition debris landfill and coal combustion residual landfills. Hazardous waste landfills, in their turn, are responsible for hazardous substance storage and utilization only, excluding any solid waste combustion in the area.
The second half of the 20th century marked the genesis of growing concern over people and the environment’s exposure to hazardous waste emission complications. As a result, some of the major programs aimed at reducing this harm were founded. One of the most notorious and efficient units to address the issue is the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) established in 1980. The organization’s primary goal is to minimize the negative impact of hazardous substances through an extensive tax system and innumerable initiatives. Over the past years, through cooperation with industries, thousands of remedial sites were built and repaired to protect local communities from the disastrous effects (EPA, 2018). Thus, considering everything, it might be concluded that hazardous waste management is now one of the most crucial public issues in the context of US healthcare and environmental policies. However, a considerably high number of policies and initiatives are now dedicated to the problem solution, giving people hope to minimize the issue scope on the shortest notice.
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Blackman Jr, W. C. (2016). Basic hazardous waste management. CRC press.
EPA. (2018). Superfund: CERCLA overview. Web.
EPA. (2020). Basic information about landfills. Web.
EPA. (2020). Hazardous waste manifest system. Web.
EPA. (2020). Hazardous waste. Web.
Grasso, D. (2017). Hazardous Waste Site Remediation. Routledge.