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Sampling Building Debris for Dangerous Waste

It is often difficult to tell if demolition debris is dangerous waste. Debris suspected of being dangerous waste, but sampling methods vary depending on circumstances.  Dangerous Waste testing regulations do not regulate how many waste samples to take or where to take them as long as the samples are representative. 

A "representative sample" is defined in the "Definitions" section of Dangerous Waste Regulations in WAC 173–303-040 as "a sample which can be expected to exhibit the average properties of the sample source."

The following sampling plans for Dangerous Waste disposal are suggested ways to obtain samples from buildings to be demolished. The Dangerous Waste regulations regulate the test methods used for waste designation, but they do not regulate the methods used to take test samples, other than the requirement to take a representative sample. 

Sampling Plans for Demolition Debris

There are six options that may be used.  Click the links below to learn more about each method:

  1.  Screen, Sample and Segregate X-ray fluorescence (XRF) equipment is used to identify parts of the building with high lead levels (100 parts per million or greater).  Then, samples taken from these areas are tested by the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure  (TCLP) method, and those building components identified as hazardous are set aside for dangerous waste disposal.
  2.  Screen and Segregate  Similar to the above, XRF field screening identifies building components with high lead levels.   Those areas with high lead levels are disposed as dangerous waste.  This plan avoids the expense of TCLP testing.
  3. Composite Sample and Demolish  This plan is typically used where it is strongly suspected that the entire quantity of debris will not be dangerous waste.  Composite samples are obtained by taking sub-samples of each building component, which are then proportionately combined into one composite sample for TCLP analysis. 
  4. Remove, Cut and Sample This is used in cases where small amounts of debris will be disposed. Like items are removed and sawn into short lengths. The sawdust is mixed proportionately into one composite sample for TCLP testing.
  5. Screen and Calculate Lead Concentration  This method involves using mass balance calculations to calculate the concentration of lead in the entire quantity of debris.
  6. Demolish and Test After building demolition representative samples are taken of the debris and TCLP tested. This method is not recommended by Ecology, but it may be required in situations where the building is demolished before it can be sampled.

Related information

Identify and Designate Waste

Washington Dangerous Waste Designation Tool is a downloadable Excel spreadsheet that can walk a generator through the process of assigning waste codes to dangerous waste.

Designation of dangerous waste  is at WAC 173-303-070 of the Dangerous Waste Regulations.

Sampling, testing methods, and analytes is at WAC 173-303-110 in the Dangerous Waste Regulations.

Excluded Categories of Waste is at WAC 173-303-071 of the Dangerous Waste Regulations.

Procedures and bases for exempting and excluding wastes is at WAC 173-303-072 of the Dangerous Waste Regulations.

Dangerous waste characteristics is at WAC 173-303-090 of the Dangerous Waste Regulations.

Dangerous waste criteria is at WAC 173-303-100 of the Dangerous Waste Regulations.