Hazardous waste, simply, is any waste that because of its quantity or characteristics may pose a threat to human health or the environment. Waste that exhibits specific characteristics of ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, toxicity or is listed as hazardous waste in state or federal regulations must be managed as hazardous waste. Hazardous waste may be a liquid, sludge, solid or gas.

Many types of businesses generate hazardous waste. These include, for example, chemical manufacturers, electroplating companies, automobile manufacturers, lumber treating facilities, dry cleaners, photo processing centers, petroleum refineries, auto body shops and hospitals. The waste generated by these types of businesses may exhibit one of the characteristics of, or is listed as, a hazardous waste and must be safely managed.

Besides industrial and commercial waste, many household wastes may also be hazardous. Certain chemicals like pesticides, cleaning agents, old paint and solvents, and even items like fluorescent light bulbs may pose a threat to human health and the environment if not disposed of properly.

Hazardous waste related publications are available through the department's Communications Center.

Return to Hazardous Waste main page