HAZARDOUS WASTE. liquid material that is toxic, ignitable, corrosive, or reactive enough to explode or release toxic fumes.

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1 HAZARDOUS WASTE Ø Hazardous waste: is any discarded solid or liquid material that is toxic, ignitable, corrosive, or reactive enough to explode or release toxic fumes. l The two largest classes of hazardous wastes are organic compounds (e.g. pesticides, PCBs, dioxins) and toxic heavy metals (e.g. lead, mercury, arsenic).

2 What Harmful Chemicals Are in Your Home? Cleaning Disinfectants Drain, toilet, and window cleaners Spot removers Septic tank cleaners Paint Latex and oil-based paints Paint thinners, solvents, and strippers Stains, varnishes, and lacquers Wood preservatives Artist paints and inks General Dry-cell batteries (mercury and cadmium) Glues and cements Gardening Pesticides Weed killers Ant and rodent killers Flea powders Automotive Gasoline Used motor oil Antifreeze Battery acid Solvents Brake and transmission fluid Rust inhibitor and rust remover

3 Hazardous Waste Regulations in the United States Ø Two major federal laws regulate the management and disposal of hazardous waste in the U.S.: l Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) pronounced RICK-ra Cradle-to-the-grave system to keep track waste. l Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Commonly known as Superfund program.

4 Hazardous Waste Regulations in the United States Ø The Superfund law was designed to have polluters pay for cleaning up abandoned hazardous waste sites. l Only 70% of the cleanup costs have come from the polluters, the rest comes from a trust fund financed until 1995 by taxes on chemical raw materials and oil. **Note: Congress did not renew this this tax, the Superfund is now broke, taxpayers (not the polluters!) are paying the bill and the pace of cleanup has slowed. l National Priorities List (NPL) The worst sites that represent an immediate and severe threat to human health

5 DEALING WITH HAZARDOUS WASTE Ø We can produce less hazardous waste and recycle, reuse, detoxify, burn, and bury what we continue to produce.

6 Conversion to Less Hazardous Substances Ø Physical Methods: using charcoal or resins to separate out harmful chemicals. Ø Chemical Methods: using chemical reactions that can convert hazardous chemicals to less harmful or harmless chemicals.

7 Conversion to Less Hazardous Ø Biological Methods: Substances l Bioremediation: bacteria or enzymes help destroy toxic and hazardous waste or convert them to more benign substances. l Phytoremediation: involves using natural or genetically engineered plants to absorb, filter and remove contaminants from polluted soil and water.

8 Radioactive contaminants Sunflower Organic contaminants Willow tree Inorganic metal contaminants Poplar tree Brake fern Indian mustard Polluted groundwater in Soil Decontaminated water out Groundwater Landfill Polluted leachate Oil spill Soil Groundwater Rhizofiltration Roots of plants such as sunflowers with dangling roots on ponds or in greenhouses can absorb pollutants such as radioactive strontium-90 and cesium-137 and various Phytostabilization Plants such as willow trees and poplars can absorb chemicals and keep them from reaching groundwater or nearby surface water. Phytodegradation Plants such as poplars can absorb toxic organic chemicals and break them down into less harmful compounds which they store or release slowly into the air. Phytoextraction Roots of plants such as Indian mustard and brake ferns can absorb toxic metals such as lead, arsenic, and others and store them in their leaves. Plants can then be recycled or harvested and incinerated.

9 Trade-Offs Phytoremediation Advantages Easy to establish Inexpensive Can reduce material dumped into landfills Produces little air pollution compared to incineration Low energy use Disadvantages Slow (can take several growing seasons) Effective only at depth plant roots can reach Some toxic organic chemicals may evaporate from plant leaves Some plants can become toxic to animals

10 Conversion to Less Hazardous Substances Ø Incineration: heating many types of hazardous waste to high temperatures up to 2000 C in an incinerator can break them down and convert them to less harmful or harmless chemicals.

11 Conversion to Less Hazardous Substances Ø Plasma Torch: passing electrical current through gas to generate an electric arc and very high temperatures can create plasma. l The plasma process can be carried out in a torch which can decompose liquid or solid hazardous organic material.

12 Trade-Offs Plasma Arc Advantages Disadvantages Small High cost Produces CO2 and CO Mobile. Easy to move to different sites Produces no toxic ash Can release particulates and chlorine gas Can vaporize and release toxic metals and radioactive elements

13 Long-Term Storage of Hazardous Waste Ø Hazardous waste can be disposed of on or underneath the earth s surface, but without proper design and care this can pollute the air and water. l Deep-well disposal: liquid hazardous wastes are pumped under pressure into dry porous rock far beneath aquifers. l Surface impoundments: excavated depressions such as ponds, pits, or lagoons into which liners are placed and liquid hazardous wastes are stored.

14 Trade-Offs Deep Underground Wells Advantages Disadvantages Safe method if sites are chosen carefully Wastes can be retrieved if problems develop Easy to do Low cost Leaks or spills at surface Leaks from corrosion of well casing Existing fractures or earthquakes can allow wastes to escape into groundwater Encourages waste production Fig , p. 539

15 Trade-Offs Surface Impoundments Advantages Low construction costs Low operating costs Can be built quickly Wastes can be retrieved if necessary Can store wastes indefinitely with secure double liners Disadvantages Groundwater contamination from leaking liners (or no lining) Air pollution from volatile organic compounds Overflow from flooding Disruption and leakage from earthquakes Promotes waste production

16 Long-Term Storage of Hazardous Waste Ø Long-Term Retrievable Storage: Some highly toxic materials cannot be detoxified or destroyed. Metal drums are used to stored them in areas that can be inspected and retrieved. Ø Secure Landfills: Sometimes hazardous waste are put into drums and buried in carefully designed and monitored sites.

17 Secure Hazardous Waste Landfill Ø In the U.S. there are only 23 commercial hazardous waste landfills.

18 What Can You Do? Hazardous Waste Use pesticides in the smallest amount possible. Use less harmful substances instead of commercial chemicals for most household cleaners. For example use liquid ammonia to clean appliances and windows; vinegar to polish metals, clean surfaces, and remove stains and mildew; baking soda to clean household utensils, deodorize, and remove stains; borax to remove stains and mildew. Do not dispose of pesticides, paints, solvents, oil, antifreeze, or other products containing hazardous chemicals by flushing them down the toilet, pouring them down the drain, burying them, throwing them into the garbage, or dumping them down storm drains.

19 Case Study: Lead Ø Lead is especially harmful to children and is still used in leaded gasoline and household paints in about 100 countries.

20 Case Study: Mercury Ø Mercury is released into the environment mostly by burning coal and incinerating wastes and can build to high levels in some types of fish.

21 AIR WINDS PRECIPITATION WINDS PRECIPITATION Hg and SO 2 Hg 2 + and acids Hg 2+ and acids Incinerator Human sources Coalburning plant Elemental mercury vapor (Hg) Photochemical Inorganic mercury and acids (Hg 2+ ) Inorganic mercury and acids (Hg 2+ ) Deposition Deposition Runoff of Hg 2+ and acids Deposition Vaporization WATER Deposition Small fish Large fish BIOMAGNIFICATION IN FOOD CHAIN Phytoplankton Zooplankton Oxidation Elemental mercury liquid (Hg) Settles out Inorganic mercury (Hg 2+ ) Settles out SEDIMENT Bacteria and acids Bacteria Organic mercury (CH 3 Hg + ) Settles out

22 ACHIEVING A LOW-WASTE SOCIETY Ø In the U.S., citizens have kept large numbers of incinerators, landfills, and hazardous waste treatment plants from being built in their local areas. Ø Environmental justice means that everyone is entitled to protection from environmental hazards without discrimination.

23 Making the Transition to a Low-Waste Society: A New Vision Ø Everything is connected. Ø There is no away for the wastes we produce. Ø Dilution is not always the solution to pollution. Ø The best and cheapest way to deal with wastes are reduction and pollution prevention.

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