What materials are considered hazardous and need special management?
There are many items used at work that can be hazardous when handled or disposed of improperly. Business Hazardous Wastes include corrosives, flammable liquids, poisons, fluorescent bulbs, rechargeable batteries, electronics, photo chemicals, etc. For a complete guide to managing your small business hazardous waste, see this EPA guide Managing your Hazardous Waste, A Guide for Small Business. This website focuses on the following universal wastes,* which contain substances that are hazardous to human or environmental health and should not be thrown into the trash:
- Fluorescent Light Bulbs
- Rechargeable Batteries
- Electronic Equipment (Computer Monitors, fax machines, cordless phones, and other electronics)
- Mercury-containing equipment*
Why do I need to handle these items differently?
- Fluorescent bulbs, rechargeable batteries and many electronic components contain toxic materials including mercury, lead, cadmium, PCBs, and toxic fire-retardant plastics
- Even in small amounts, these toxins can be damaging to health and environment
- Electronics and other materials also contain valuable elements, such as gold and platinum, that can be recovered and reused when properly recycled
- When fluorescent bulbs, rechargeable batteries and electronic components are thrown in the trash, harmful substances enter our environment and affect both humans and wildlife.
- The mercury from a single, broken, fluorescent light bulb can contaminate as much as 7,000 gallons of water
- Under state and federal regulations, businesses are obligated to properly manage these toxic materials as universal wastes* under hazardous waste laws.
- The Laws section of this website has additional information for businesses about legal obligations
*External link. The Northern Virginia Regional Commission does not author third party sites and their reference is for educational purposes only.