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Identify Waste in Federal/Military Facilities

Federal facilities have a variety of processes that may create dangerous waste. See the following table for wastes that may be found at many federal facilities.

Pollution Pollution for Federal and Military Facilities offers tips to reduce waste.

Common Wastes in Federal Facilities

Waste

Where / Why

Possible Waste Code

Absorbent materials Absorbents contaminated with dangerous waste become dangerous waste. Code depends on materials absorbed.
Aerosol cans Propellant is most likely ignitable, and the product may be dangerous waste. Characteristic: D001, D003

Test to determine the waste code of contents.

Air bags Sodium azide in undeployed air bags may burn exposed skin. Unstable reactive waste. Dangerous to inhale. Characteristic: D003

State Only: WT01

Antifreeze, spent, ethylene glycol Always state-only waste and often characteristic-toxic, due to lead and other heavy metals. Recyclable. State Only: WT02.

Not needed, if recycled.

Batteries, Lead-acid Corrosive acid. Corrodes metals or other materials or burns skin. Contains lead and sulfuric acid. Characteristic: D002 & D008

Not needed, if handled as Universal Waste or recycled under spent lead acid battery exclusion

Brake and carburetor cleaners Usually contains chlorinated solvent such as methylene chloride

Can contaminate other wastes, e.g. used oil or transmission fluid

Listed: F002
Contaminated soil Toxic, characteristic, possibly due to heavy metals—lead, cadmium, chromium, arsenic, total petroleum hydrocarbons and volatile organics Test to determine contents and waste codes.
Fuel and fuel filters Flammable, ignitable, flashpoint less than 140°F. Capable of causing explosion and fire. Contaminated gasoline or diesel may be as a fuel. Characteristic: D001

Not considered dangerous waste if recycled or burned as fuel

Hot tank solutions Corrosive from spent cleaning solutions and sludge Characteristic: D002

Test to determine contents and waste codes

Lead parts Example: lead wheel weights, battery cables ends. Toxic, characteristic. Causes lead poisoning Characteristic: D008 or

Recycle as scrap metal without codes.

Mercury-containing switches

See Mercury Auto Switches.

Highly toxic metal. Extremely toxic to nervous system

Example: hood and trunk light switches and anti-lock brakes (ABS) sensors.

Characteristic: D009

Not needed, if handled as Universal Waste

Mercury-containing light Bulbs/lamps

(Fluorescent bulbs)

Bulbs and tubes can be characterized as toxic, due to mercury, but they can be handled as a universal waste. (See Universal Waste.)

Characteristic: D009

Not needed, if handled as Universal Waste

PCB-Containing Light Ballasts Ballasts listed with PCB concentration of ≥ 2 parts per million State Only: WPCB
Paint, waste or expired, oil-based Ignitable if flash point is below 140°F

State-only dangerous waste, often, due to metal content.

Characteristic: D001
Paint-booth Filters, masking tape/paper Often characteristic-toxic waste due to trace metals or halogenated organic compounds. Filters should be tested.

Test to determine waste code.

 

Refrigerants

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs) can be released to atmosphere and destroy ozone layer

Characteristic: D019 and D022

Not needed, if recycled under CFC exclusion

Sanding dust Sometimes characteristic-toxic, if dust is from older vehicles.  Test to determine waste code.
Scrap metal Catalytic converters, lead pipe, sheet metal beams, wire piping, cans, tanks, metal cuttings, filters, etc.  Basically, any metal pieces that can be butted together—no ash, sludge, or liquid metal Test for waste codes. May be managed under the precious metal exclusion. No codes needed if managed as scrap metal.
Shop Towels / Rags Contaminated with Dangerous Waste Absorbents soaked with dangerous waste become dangerous waste. However, non-dripping rags/ towels are not considered dangerous waste if they are:
  • Laundered at an appropriate facility
  • Stored in closed containers labeled as “contaminated shop towels” away from a source of ignition AND
  • Not mixed with other waste
Code depends on materials absorbed. Not needed if properly laundered.
Sludge or “bottoms” from solvent still that recycles gun cleaner or thinner Listed and often ignitable dangerous waste:  Still bottoms from a still where the solvent blend contains, before use, 10% or more of solvents such as, toluene, and MEK.  The mixture also has a flash point below 140°F. Listed: F005

Characteristic: D001

Sump sludges A very variable waste stream, often characteristic/ toxic for metal content, total petroleum hydrocarbons Test to determine contents and waste codes.
Tires

See Waste Tires.

Tires are not considered dangerous waste, but no more than 800 tires can be stored on-site at any time. Not needed
Transmission filters and fluids Dangerous waste if they become contaminated with solvents, brake cleaners Not dangerous waste if recycled under the used motor oil regulations. Otherwise, test.
Used motor oil Often characteristic-toxic dangerous waste due to levels of lead and/or benzene.  Usually recycled Test to determine waste code or recycle through approved handler.
Waste methylene chloride paint stripper (unused)

See Solvents.

Listed dangerous waste: The discarded material is a commercial chemical product listed for toxicity.

Listed: U080

Waste methylene chloride paint sludge stripped from vehicles

See Solvents.

Listed dangerous waste: The solvent blend contains, before use, 10% or more of methylene chloride.Listed: F002
Waste gun-cleaning solvent 

See Solvents.

Listed and dangerous ignitable waste: The solvent blend contains, before use, 10% or more of solvents such as, toluene, and MEK.  The mixture also has a flash point below 140°F. Listed: F005

Characteristic: D001

Waste paint thinner

See Solvents

Listed and ignitable dangerous waste: The solvent blend contains, before use, ten percent or more of solvents such as, toluene, and MEK.  The mixture also has a flash point below 140°F. Listed: F005

Characteristic: D001

Windshield washer fluid Mainly alcohol, water, and detergent ... many contain small amounts of antifreeze Not needed if reused. Otherwise, test.

 

Related information

Manage Waste for Federal/ Military Facilities offers guidance on the dangerous waste rules.