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Chemical waste is any excess, unusable, or unwanted chemical, especially those that cause damage to human health or the environment. Chemical waste may be classified as hazardous waste, non-hazardous waste, universal waste, and household hazardous waste. Hazardous waste is a material that displays one or more of four characteristics: ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity. This information, along with disposal requirements, is typically available on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Chemical waste that is radioactive, radioactive waste, requires special means of handling and disposal. Biohazardous waste, although often chemical, falls into four categories and is handled differently.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) prohibits disposing of certain materials down drains. Therefore, when hazardous chemical waste is generated in a laboratory setting, it is usually stored on-site in an appropriate waste carboy where it is later collected and disposed of by a specialist contractor in order to meet safety, health, and legislative requirements. For example, many university's Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) divisions/departments serve the collection and oversight role.
Organic solvents and other organic waste is typically incinerated. Some chemical wastes are recycled, such as waste elemental mercury.
Packaging, labeling, and storage are the three requirements for disposing of chemical waste. (These guidelines are not applicable to biohazardous waste and radioactive waste).
For packaging, chemical liquid waste containers should only be filled up to 75% capacity to allow for vapor expansion and to reduce potential spills which could occur from moving overfilled containers. Container material must be compatible with the stored hazardous waste.
In addition to the general packaging requirements mentioned above, incompatible materials should never be mixed in a single container (see below). Precipitates, solids, or other non-fluid wastes are typically stored separate from liquid waste.
All containers should be labeled with the group name from the chemical waste category and an itemized list of the contents. All chemicals or anything contaminated with chemicals pose a significant hazard. All waste must be appropriately packaged.
When storing chemical wastes, the containers must be in good condition and should remain closed unless waste is being added. The container should be sturdy and leak-proof and must be labeled. All liquid waste must be stored in leak-proof containers with a screw-top or other secure lid, not parafilm or other loose-fitting lids that can become dislodged in transit. A secondary containment (e.g., flammable cabinet or large plastic bin, etc.) should be used to capture spills and leaks from the primary container and segregate incompatible hazardous wastes, such as acids and bases.
Main article: Compatibility (chemical)
Many chemicals may react adversely when combined. It is recommended that incompatible chemicals be stored in separate areas of the lab.
Acids should be separated from alkalis, metals, cyanides, sulfides, azides phosphides, and oxidizers, as when acids combine with these types of compounds, violent exothermic reactions can occur possibly causing flammable gas, and in some cases explosions.
Oxidizers should be separated from acids, organic materials, metals, reducing agents, and ammonia, as when oxidizers combine with these types of compounds, flammable and sometimes toxic compounds can be created.
Pharmaceuticals comprise one of the few groups of chemicals that are specifically designed to act on living cells, which presents a special risk when they enter, persist and are dispersed into the environment.
With exception for downstream sewage treatment plants, the concentration of pharmaceuticals in water is probably extremely low. However, the effect that the chronic exposure to environmental pharmaceuticals chemicals adds to the effects of other chemicals in the cocktail is still not studied. The different chemicals might be potentiating synergistic effects (1+1=3). An extremely sensitive group in this respect are foetuses.
EPPPs are already found in water all over the world. The diffuse exposure might contribute to
The use of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) is on the rise with an estimated increase from 2 billion to 3.9 billion annual prescriptions between 1999 and 2009 in the United States alone. PPCPs enter into the environment through individual human activity and as residues from manufacturing, agribusiness, veterinary use, and hospital and community use. In Europe, the input of pharmaceutical residues via domestic waste water is estimated to be around 80% whereas 20% is coming from hospitals. Individuals may add PPCPs to the environment through waste excretion and bathing as well as by directly disposing of unused medications to septic tanks, sewers, or trash. Because PPCPs tend to dissolve relatively easily and do not evaporate at normal temperatures, they often end up in soil and water bodies.Some PPCPs are broken down or processed easily by a human or animal body and/or degrade quickly in the environment. However, others do not break down or degrade easily. The likelihood or ease with which an individual substance will break down depends on its chemical makeup and the metabolic pathway of the compound.
The textile industry is one of the largest polluters in the globalized world of mostly free market dominated socioeconomic systems. Chemically polluted textile wastewater degrades the quality of the soil and water. The pollution comes from the type of conduct of chemical treatments used e.g., in pretreatment, dyeing, printing, and finishing operations that many or most market-driven companies use despite "eco-friendly alternatives". Textile industry wastewater (TIWW) is considered to be one the largest polluters of water and soil ecosystems, causing e.g., "carcinogenic, mutagenic, genotoxic, cytotoxic and allergenic threats to living organisms". The textile industry uses over 8000 chemicals in its supply chain, also pollutes the environment with large amounts of microplastics and has been identified in one review as the biggest pollution causing production sector.
A campaign of big clothing brands like Nike, Adidas and Puma to voluntarily reform their manufacturing supply chains to commit to achieve zero discharges of hazardous chemicals by 2020 (global goal) appears to have failed.
Textile industry also creates a lot of pollution that leads to externalities which causes big problems in the economy. The problem usually occurs when there is no division of ownership rights. This means that problem of pollution is mainly caused because of lacking information about which company pollutes and at what scale the damage was caused by the pollution.
A study by "Scienmag" defines a 'planetary boundary' for novel entities such as plastic and chemical pollution. The study reported that the boundary has been crossed.
Chemical waste may fall under regulation such as COSHH in the United Kingdom or the Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act in the United States. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as state and local regulations, also regulate chemical use and disposal.
Chemical waste in oceans is becoming a major issue for marine life. There have been many studies conducted to try and prove the effects of chemicals in our oceans. In Canada, many of the studies concentrated on the Atlantic provinces, where fishing and aquaculture are an important part of the economy. In New Brunswick, a study was done on the sea urchin in an attempt to identify the effects of toxic and chemical waste on life beneath the ocean, specifically the waste from salmon farms. Sea urchins were used to check the levels of metals in the environment. It is advantageous to use green sea urchins because they are widely distributed, abundant in many locations, and easily accessible. By investigating the concentrations of metals in the green sea urchins, the impacts of chemicals from salmon aquaculture activity could be assessed and detected. Samples were taken at 25-metre intervals along a transect in the direction of the main tidal flow. The study found that there were impacts to at least 75 meters based on the intestine metal concentrations.
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