How does EPA regulate mercury in waste?
EPA has identified particular industrial wastes that contain mercury. Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), EPA regulates these wastes as "listed wastes" and are considered hazardous.
- You can learn more about listed wastes at http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/wastetypes/listed.htm.
Other wastes that contain mercury may not have been specifically listed, but might still be considered hazardous if they are toxic, as defined through a laboratory test called the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure, or TCLP. The TCLP estimates how much mercury might leach out of a waste and potentially contaminate ground water. If a waste exceeds the TCLP level of 0.2 milligrams per liter (mg/L) for mercury, under RCRA it is considered to be "exhibiting the characteristic of toxicity for mercury". You can learn more about:
- Toxicity and other characteristics that make wastes hazardous at http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/wastetypes/characteristic.htm.
- The TCLP at http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/testmethods/sw846/pdfs/1311.pdf .
RCRA requires hazardous wastes to be properly treated before being disposed of. EPA has set treatment standards for all hazardous waste disposed of into or on land. RCRA also includes storage, disposal , recordkeeping, reporting, and transportation requirements for hazardous wastes that contain mercury.
- Learn more about treatment, storage and disposal standards: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/tsd/index.htm .
- View a list of mercury regulations under RCRA: http://www.epa.gov/mercury/regs.htm#wastes .
Some wastes that contain mercury are not regulated as hazardous wastes under RCRA. Examples of these types of waste include:
- Household hazardous waste, like mercury-containing batteries and light bulbs: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/hhw.htm
- Wastes properly managed by companies and organizations that generate small amounts of hazardous waste and that qualify under RCRA as "conditionally exempt small quantity generators": http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/generation/cesqg.htm
- Wastes that contain mercury, but do not exceed the TCLP level of 0.2 milligrams per liter (mg/L) for mercury.
In addition to these federal regulations, states may have more comprehensive or stringent requirements of their own. Some state requirements may be more stringent than the federal requirements. If you are interested in learning about state regulations regarding safe mercury management, see the hazardous waste departments of the various state environmental agencies at http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/wyl/stateprograms.htm.
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- Topic #: 23002-17197
- Date Created: 7/13/2007
- Last Modified Since: 4/10/2013
- Viewed: 194