When people think of hazardous waste, they often imagine large containers bubbling over with oozing, neon sludge, but hazardous waste actually comes in many different forms and categories. One such lesser-known category is RCRA metals. There are eight of them, and if you suspect your Atlanta business, manufacturing plant, or property has this kind of contamination, you will need to get in contact with a reputable local hazardous waste management company to correctly identify and then subsequently deal with that issue.
Disposing of Hazardous Waste in Atlanta, Ga: Need to Beware of RCRA Metals and proper Disposal Methods
What Are the 8 RCRA Metals?
RCRA identifies eight different types of metal that are considered hazardous if present in adequate concentrations. Those metals are:
Arsenic is largely associated with toxicity, but it surprises some people that it’s found in the list of toxic heavy metals because arsenic actually naturally appears in some food. It also shows up in water and even certain household products. The key here is concentration. It’s harmless in small doses but dangerous—and then lethal—in higher concentrations.
Barium is more common than even most realize. It appears in items such as fireworks coloring, rat poison, and fluorescent lights. Arguably its most common application, however, is in oil refineries, where it’s added to the tips of drill bits.
In the United States, cadmium is most often extracted during the production of other metals (copper, zinc, lead, and so on). Cadmium resists corrosion well and shows up in everything from batteries to pigments to plastics.
Chromium’s inclusion on the list (like arsenic) surprises some. It’s naturally occurring in rocks, soil, plants, and even some animals. Very small amounts are one of many necessary elements for human health, but again, in too large of a dose, it can become dangerous or even lethal.
While lead does occur naturally in the earth’s crust, most lead enters our soil and water through human activities such as manufacturing, burning fossil fuels, and mining. Lead is used far less in household products now, but it still appears most notably in batteries and ammunition.
Mercury is arguably the most well-known toxic metal. It used to be used all the time in thermometers and batteries. It even appeared in dental fillings. While its use has largely been phased out, it remains the most toxic of the eight identified metals.
Selenium is another metal that (in small doses) contributes to positive human health. Its uses are wide and varied. Selenium shows up in electronics, plastics, pigments, paints, enamels, and more. However, it’s also found in nutritional supplements, pharmaceuticals, and poultry and livestock feed.
While silver appears in our jewelry and cutlery, it can be highly toxic in large concentrations.
How Much Is Too Much?
Every RCRA metal has what is known as a toxicity characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP) limit. As stated, something like selenium is not harmful in small doses, but as the concentration increases, so too does the risk and toxicity. Using that principle, TCLP limits are the federally mandated regulatory limit on how many parts of that metal (in milligrams per liter) are permissible.
The limits are as follows:
TCLP Limit (in mg/L)
Because it’s such a specific and regulated number, it’s absolutely necessary to perform the TCLP test to ascertain how much of any given metal you have.
Say, for example, you purchase a plot of land in Atlanta that used to be a gun range. Because lead appears in ammunition (and ammunition was likely all over the ground at the gun range), the only way you can be certain you don’t have heavy metal contamination is by working with a qualified hazardous waste management company. That company can perform the analytical work to tell you exactly how many milligrams per liter you have of the heavy metal and whether that’s above or below the regulated limit.
Shipping the Hazardous Waste Away From Your Atlanta Facility
If you’ve had the TCLP test done, and it’s been determined the waste was under the regulated limit, you don’t technically (or legally) have hazardous waste. Anything cleaned from that site can be shipped of as nonregulated hazardous waste. From your Atlanta, Ga hazardous waste site, the waste can go to a subtitle D landfill for non-hazardous waste.
If, however, you are deemed to be over the limit for any given metal, you will need to ship the waste as hazardous.
At these levels of concentration, the EPA assigns hazardous waste codes. The RCRA 8 are all considered “D-listed waste,” and their codes are as follows:
EPA Hazardous Waste Code
From your Atlanta site, the waste must go to a RCRA subtitle C landfill for hazardous waste. These landfills meet certain federal requirements that ensure no leaching or leaking of the waste occurs.
Alternately, you could send the waste for stabilization, treatment, or incineration.
Hazardous Waste Management Companies in Atlanta, Ga
Properly dealing with the RCRA 8 is necessary for the safety of you and anyone who might come in contact with dangerously contaminated soil or water sources, but it also saves you and your manufacturing company, business, or site from fines and other penalties associated with federal noncompliance.
If you do require these testing services, make sure to choose a local full-service waste management company in Georgia. That way, you can work with the same trusted company through every stage—from sampling to identification to transport (including all necessary paperwork, such as the relevant hazardous waste profiles).
For more information about what RCRA metals are, how you can tell if you might have them, or how to handle possible or apparent contamination, please feel free to contact a representative of MCF Environmental Services, a a full-service hazardous waste management company in Atlanta, Georgia.