Things to know about hazardous waste

medical waste treatment

Waste is dangerous when it poses a threat to public health or the environment. Due to this dangerous nature, the sorting, storage, transport and treatment of this waste are strictly regulated.

Batteries: a risk for the environment

Batteries or accumulators contain substances presenting risks to health and the environment. Depending on the nickel models, we find lithium, zinc, iron, mercury, etc. in cells and batteries. The extraction of these metals is particularly harmful to the environment. The design of the battery is therefore a polluting phase, just like the end of life. Some cells and batteries release the metals they contain if they are recycled incorrectly. This will then contaminate land and water for several years. It is essential to dispose of batteries at the end of their life in bins provided for this purpose. We can then collect them, process them and recycle them.

Toner ink cartridges: toxic materials

A toner ink cartridge (laser printer), even empty, contains toner dust mainly composed of plastic particles, resin and metals. These are molecules that are harmful to health. In particular, they can cause severe irritation to the eyes, throat and nose if they are inhaled. Therefore, toners must be collected and subjected to appropriate treatment because they are hazardous waste.

WEEE: Waste electrical and electronic equipment

WEEE (or D3E) covers end-of-life equipment running on electricity or via electromagnetic fields. These include computers, keyboards, small and large household appliances, mobile phones and even air conditioners. This equipment contains many polluting components that are harmful to the environment. It is therefore necessary to ensure sorting and collection in order to be able to recycle their materials and not find them in nature.

Where to throw cigarette butts

Cigarette butts contain many substances that are toxic to health and the environment. They very often end up polluting surface water and groundwater when thrown into nature. Recycling solutions exist. They consist of cleaning up cigarette butts, then transforming them into plastic and finally into various objects (pencil holders, ashtrays, etc.). To make this possible, we encourage companies to educate their staff about throwing cigarette butts into ashtrays provided for this purpose. Also, we can organize their collection so that they are sent to a recycling center. Find out everything there is to know about recycling cigarette butts in this article.

Risks related to hazardous waste from industry

Mineral oils are very polluting for the environment. The spilling of used mineral oils (drain oil, industrial lubricants) presents risks for fauna and flora. They contain in particular heavy metals and toxic additives. Once in the water, they form a film on the surface and partly prevent oxygenation of the aquatic environment. These oils are hazardous waste and their release into nature is prohibited. If you own used oil, you are subject to strict regulations in terms of managing this waste.

Dangers of solvents, paints and treated wood

Paints and solvents are used frequently, whether for personal use (DIY, maintenance) or professional use (cleaning, metallurgy, laboratories, crafts). These are dangerous products for humans: risk of irritation of the skin or upper respiratory tract if inhaled. On an environmental level, paints and solvents contribute to the degradation of the ozone layer and the contamination of soil, water and groundwater. Care must therefore be taken when disposing of them by storing solvents and paints separately from other waste, in tightly closed containers. Then, you must ensure that these liquids are collected by an approved professional.

Treated wood

There are 2 types of treated wood: class B wood (lowly treated and non-hazardous) from doors, furniture, windows, etc. and Class C wood (treated and dangerous) from railway ties, telephone poles, etc. Class B wood is recoverable. Class C wood carries risks of emissions of polluting volatile organic compounds. Its incineration is necessary in dedicated facilities.

Asbestos waste: a health risk

Asbestos is a natural mineral insulating material whose use has been banned in Pennsylvania since 1989. When they disintegrate, asbestos fibers cause serious health risks and diseases such as lung cancer. Some buildings built before its ban still contain asbestos. Asbestos waste mainly comes from renovation, rehabilitation and demolition sites. Before any work operation, an asbestos survey must be carried out by a certified diagnostician. On construction sites, it is imperative to have asbestos waste picked up and collected by an asbestos removal operator as it is produced.

Hazardous waste from the health sector: what are the dangers

DASRI (waste from healthcare activities with infectious risks) are waste produced by diagnostic, monitoring and preventive, curative and palliative treatment activities. They come from the field of human or veterinary medicine (syringes, needles, drainage bags). They constitute hazardous waste and it is therefore necessary to separate them from other waste. They must be deposited in an approved treatment or recovery facility.

How to dispose of mercury x-rays and thermometers

X-rays contain plastic and silver. Above all, they should not be thrown away with household waste, because if they are landfilled, the silver salts released severely pollute the soil and contaminate the base of the food chain. By sending old film x-rays to specialized companies or associations, recycling a ton of photos allows us to recover 10kg of silver. As for the plastic support, it is recyclable in the form of polyester or it is thermally recoverable. They must be taken to a recycling center or pharmacy so that they can be passed on to these specialists. The mercury thermometer is hazardous waste, because it releases the mercury it contains in the event of breakage. It is very toxic to health and the environment. It should be returned to the recycling center so that it can be decontaminated.

Medicines and care products: not in the trash

MNU (Unused Medicines) includes tablets, syrups, ointments, etc. that is not used because the expiry date has passed or medical treatment has stopped. If it is not thrown away in the right place, these products pose a risk to the environment, particularly aquatic environments. If you have medications, it is essential to sort them and return them to the pharmacy. Then, we can use them as energy.

What solutions for other dangerous products

Did you know? Waste containing one or more dangerous materials must systematically be considered harmful and receive special treatment, so that we can get a greener future.

PCBs, dangerous waste

PCBs and PCTs are chemical derivatives, chlorinated organic products known under the trade name Pyralene. Initially used as lubricants in turbines, pumps and in the formation of cutting oils, their production was banned in the 1980s due to their harmfulness to humans and nature. Today, certain end-of-life devices such as transformers and capacitors still contain them. In order to comply with regulations in Norristown, devices, tools and materials that have been in contact with PCB and/or PCT must receive decontamination by an approved treatment company.

Does the recovery of PCBs exist

In Pennsylvania, a company treats waste contaminated by PCB/PCT using a high vacuum technique. Thus, they are evaporated, sucked up in the form of gas then stored in tanks while waiting to be processed.

Sludge, dangerous waste

Sludge from industrial wastewater treatment plants may or may not be hazardous waste depending on the presence of hazardous substances. They are subject to general waste regulations. There is a waste nomenclature code for each activity. It aims to classify sludge resulting from the in situ treatment of industrial effluents. More details here. Smoke purification residues contain toxic compounds in the event of incineration of waste containing chemical or dangerous substances. They must be stabilized before storing them in a specific harmful waste facility.