The mission of the U.S.
 Environmental Protection
 Agency (EPA) is to protect
 human health and safe-
 guard the environment.
 One way EPA helps fulfill
 its mission is by regulat-
 ing the management and
 disposal of hazardous
 wastes under the
 Resource Conservation
 and Recovery Act (RCRA).
 RCRA has the following
 three general goals: To
 protect human health and
 the environment • Jo
 reduce waste while con-
 serving energy and natur-
 al resources  • To reduce
 or eliminate the genera-
 tion of hazardous waste.
                           United States
                           Environmental Protection
                           Solid Waste
                           and Emergency Response
                 October 2000

What  Makes  a  Waste
        As a first step in fulfilling the goals of RCRA, EPA developed objective
        criteria to define and identify hazardous waste for regulation. According to
        EPA, a waste is hazardous if it can be harmful to human health and the envi-
        ronment when handled improperly. Hazardous wastes come in many forms
and can be generated in a variety of industrial and nonindustrial settings. Specifically, a
waste is considered hazardous under RCRA if it meets either of the following criteria:
(1) it is specifically listed (identified) as a hazardous waste or (2) it exhibits one or
more characteristics of a hazardous waste.
Determining whether or not a waste qualifies as hazardous is important because only
hazardous wastes that meet the criteria above are subject to RCRA regulations. EPA
requires wastes identified as hazardous to be handled—stored, treated, and disposed
of—according to the stipulations of the RCRA hazardous waste program.
What Are the Different
Kinds of Hazardous Waste?
Listed Wastes
EPA has specifically identified and listed
certain wastes that are known to be haz-
ardous. To determine a waste to be listed,
EPA observes different industrial practices
at numerous facilities, noting the common
chemicals used, and assessing which
wastes pose the greatest risk to human
health and the environment. Listed wastes
are always hazardous regardless of their
chemical composition—no testing is
required to identify them. Listed wastes
are divided into four categories, according
to their origin:

•  F list—Wastes from generic industrial
  processes. For example, certain used
  solvents used  for cleaning or

•  K list—Wastes from specific industry
  sectors. For example, certain petrole-
  um refining wastes.
                                                         i Printed on paper that contains at least 30 percent postconsumer fiber.

•  P list—Unused, acutely hazardous commercial chemi-
  cal products. For example aldrin, a chemical used as
  an agricultural insecticide.

•  U list— Unused, commercial chemical products. For
  example, DDT and formaldehyde.

Characteristic Wastes

Not all hazardous wastes are listed. EPA has identified
certain properties or characteristics that also can
   Educational Activities
   (Schools, Vocational Programs)

   Dry Cleaning
   Vehicle Maintenance
                       identify a waste as hazardous to human health and the
                       environment. A waste is considered hazardous and is
                       regulated under RCRA if it exhibits one of the following

                       • Ignitability—Waste that is determined to be flamma-
                         ble under certain conditions.

                       • Corrosivity—Waste that corrodes metals or  has  a
                         very high or low pH.

                       • Reactivity—Waste that readily explodes or undergoes
                         violent reactions.

                       • Toxicity—Waste that  is known to be harmful or fatal
                         when ingested and is known to  leach into ground
                         water at certain levels. For example, waste with  high
                         levels of arsenic, lead, or mercury.

                       What Are the Different Forms of
                       Hazardous Waste?

                       In developing the hazardous waste  regulations,  EPA  rec-
                       ognized that waste management practices often cause
                       wastes to deviate from their original form. For example,
                       hazardous wastes can be mixed with other wastes;  can
                       be produced from other wastes; or  can contaminate soil,
                       ground water, and other materials.
y Various Activities
   Generation Activity
   Laboratories, art classes
Types of Waste

Solvent waste, paint waste, toxic
waste, used/unused chemicals
   Commercial drycleaning process     Solvent waste
   Lawn Maintenance Services
   Paint preparation, contracting
   activities, vehicle and
   equipment maintenance

   Rust removal, paint removal,
   spray booth/spray gun waste,
   paint preparation

   Pesticide application, cleanup
Ignitable wastes, toxic wastes,
solvent wastes, used oil
Solvents, paint wastes, toxic
wastes, ignitable wastes
Used/unused pesticides, solvent
wastes, contaminated soils

In some situations, hazardous wastes
are mixed with other hazardous wastes
or  nonhazardous wastes before proper
treatment or disposal. To prevent gen-
erators of hazardous wastes from dilut-
ing wastes intentionally in order to
bypass regulation, EPA developed
requirements for hazardous waste mix-
tures. A mixture of a listed waste and
any other waste will remain regulated
as a listed waste regardless of the per-
centage of the listed waste in the mix-
ture. A mixture of a characteristic
hazardous waste and any other waste
will only be considered hazardous if the
resultant mixture exhibits a hazardous
waste characteristic. Even if resultant
mixtures do not exhibit a characteristic
of  hazardous waste, they may still
require further treatment before proper
                                            Are There Any Exclusions for Hazardous Waste?
                                            Not all wastes defined as
                                            hazardous are subject to
                                            EPA's hazardous waste man-
                                            agement standards.
                                            Congress and EPA identified
                                            certain wastes that may be
                                            impractical or otherwise
                                            undesirable to regulate. For
                                            example, household haz-
                                            ardous wastes (e.g., cleaning
                                            chemicals, paint and paint
                                            thinner, medicinal drugs, and
                                            ointments used in the home)
                                            are common  materials dis-
                                            posed of by millions of
                                            households nationwide. To
                                            subject these wastes to the
                                            stringent hazardous waste
Other Wastes Excluded
from Hazardous Waste
   Domestic sewage.
   Certain industrial waste-
   water discharges regulated
   under the Clean Water Act.
   Radioactive wastes regulat-
   ed solely under the Atomic
   Energy Act.
   Recycled used oil and
   certain used oil filters.
   Certain agricultural wastes.
   Processed scrap metal.
Derived-From Wastes
                                            regulations would be counterproductive, resulting in the overburden-
                                            ing of the general public. Instead, household hazardous waste is
                                            managed safely on a local level by its inclusion in municipal solid
                                            waste or special household hazardous waste collection programs.
As a result of treatment, storage, or
even proper disposal, residues of haz-
ardous waste can be generated from
the original hazardous waste. These
are called derived-from wastes. EPA recognized
that these residues might not be rendered nonhaz-
ardous by management activities. The hazardous status
of a residue, such as a sludge, ash, or filter, depends
on the type of hazardous waste from which it is derived.
                                                       ardous waste characteristics.  Remember, even if these
                                                       residues do not exhibit a hazardous waste characteris-
                                                       tic, they may still  require further treatment before
                                                       proper disposal.
Just as with mixtures of hazardous waste, if a residue
is derived from a listed hazardous waste, or exhibits a
characteristic of hazardous waste, then it is regulated
under RCRA as a hazardous waste.

For example, if a residue is derived from a listed haz-
ardous waste,  it retains the listed waste classification
regardless of its concentration. In other words, if some-
one burns a K-listed waste, the resultant ash would
remain a K-listed waste regardless of the concentration
of that waste ash.  If, however, a residue is derived from
a characteristic hazardous waste, it will only be consid-
ered hazardous if it still exhibits one of the four haz-
                                                       Contaminated Media and Debris

                                                       Sometimes listed and characteristic hazardous wastes
                                                       are spilled into the environment (e.g., soil or ground
                                                       water) or contaminate equipment, buildings, other struc-
                                                       tures, or debris. Environmental media and debris conta-
                                                       minated by a listed hazardous waste must be managed
                                                       as that listed waste regardless of the concentration of
                                                       waste they contain.  Media and debris contaminated
                                                       with a characteristic hazardous waste must be man-
                                                       aged as a characteristic hazardous waste only if they
                                                       exhibit a hazardous waste characteristic.

Would You Like More Information?

RCRA, Superfund, and EPCRA Hotline

Call 800 424-9346 or 703 412-9810 in the
Washington, DC area. For the hearing impaired,
the number is TDD 800 553-7672.

You also can access  information via the hotline's
Internet site at .

Additional Documents

These additional documents can help you learn
more about the requirements for hazardous waste
handlers. These documents are free and can be
ordered from the RCRA Hotline. Reference the EPA
document number (ER4530...) when ordering.

Does Your Business Produce Hazardous Waste?
Many Small Businesses Do, (EPA530-SW-90-027).

Identifying Your Waste: The Starting Point,

Understanding the Hazardous Waste Rules: A
Handbook for Small Businesses—1996 Update,
Contact Your State

Although EPA's federal regulations set the national
standard for compliance, individual states often
have regulations that are more stringent than the
federal regulations. You should contact your state
about its specific regulations. State environmental
contacts are available from the RCRA, Superfund,
and EPCRA Hotline.