Showing posts with label mercury. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mercury. Show all posts

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Heavy Metal Waste Regulation: Which Substances Make Up the RCRA 8 Metals?

What are the RCRA 8 Metals?


The Resource Recovery and Conservation Act (RCRA) lists and monitors a group of eight heavy metals which are commonly referred to as the RCRA 8. The reason being, each of these eight metals is extremely toxic at even small concentrations.
So the amount of each metal present in waste is highly regulated, and the waste can be made up from everything from light bulbs to batteries. So learning each metal and their allowable amounts is crucial.
The RCRA 8 metals are,
  • Arsenic (As),
  • Barium (Ba),
  • Cadmium (Cd),
  • Chromium (Cr),
  • Lead (Pb),
  • Mercury (Hg),
  • Selenium (Se), and
  • Silver (Ag).

The EPA Allowable Limits in Waste: An Overview

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allows for only a certain concentration of each metal in waste. For a look at the limits and the hazardous waste codes set out by the agency, refer to the chart below:
Heavy MetalHazardous Waste CodeEPA Allowable Limits
ArsenicD0045.0 ppm (mg/L)
BariumD005100.0 ppm (mg/L)
CadmiumD0061.0 ppm (mg/L)
ChromiumD0075.0 ppm (mg/L)
LeadD0085.0 ppm (mg/L)
MercuryD0090.2 ppm (mg/L)
SeleniumD0101.0 ppm (mg/L)
SilverD0115.0 ppm (mg/L)


A Breakdown of the RCRA 8 Metals


Arsenic 
Arsenic, typically thought of as the de rigueur poison of the nobility in during the Middle Ages, is actually found in small—but harmless—concentrations in our food and water today. Due to its prevalent use and misuse in the historical record, its toxicity is well known. The presence of toxic arsenic in tobacco smoke has also been well-documented. The EPA limits the amount of arsenic in all waste products to 5 parts per million (ppm).
Barium 
Barium is a highly reactive metal found in many manufactured products, including rat poison, fireworks, fluorescent light bulbs, and floor tiles. The EPA’s regulation stipulates that there can be no more than 100 ppm of barium in waste.
Barium, one of the RCRA 8 metals, used in fireworks
Barium is used in the coloring of fireworks

Cadmium 
Cadmium is blue-grey soft metal. It is a byproduct of copper and zinc production. Shellfish, mushrooms, dried seaweed, mussels, and cocoa powder are also naturally rich in the toxic metal. Cadmium can be ingested by humans through contact with secondhand smoke. It can cause harm to the kidneys and liver. Its regulated level is 1 ppm.
Chromium 
Chromium is a steel-grey-colored, brittle metal most often used, as you might expect, in chrome electroplating. But its earliest use can be dated back to the Qin Dynasty in China, where chromium oxide coated the weapons of the funereal Terracotta Army. Trace amounts of the metal are necessary for human health, but overexposure to the substance inside the body can lead to liver, kidney, and blood stream damage. The EPA regulates chromium at 5 ppm.
Lead
Lead’s health hazards are well-documented, yet is still found in many things, including crafted metals, ammunition, old paints, and batteries. A naturally-occurring substance, lead is released into the atmosphere or leaches into water supplies during the burning of fossil fuels and certain manufacturing processes. Exposure to lead can cause lead poisoning, which has been shown to be deleterious to the cognitive functionality of the brain, and also a possible cancer-causing agent. The regulated level of lead is 5 ppm.
Mercury
Mercury, or quicksilver, is a silvery, liquid heavy metal. It can be found in glass thermometers, batteries, and even dental fillings. Ingestion of methly-mercury is common in fish consumption, and its buildup can sometimes lead to mercury poisoning. The long-term effects of mercury poisoning are impaired cognition, tremors, and circadian rhythm disturbances. Mercury is regulated by the EPA at 0.2 ppm.
Selenium 
Selenium is a usually found in soil, but is also generated in its elemental state as the byproduct of refining metal sulfide and copper ores. Its uses in manufacturing can range from the production of electronics (as it is a semiconductor) to pharmaceuticals. Selenium is also necessary for human health, and can even be bought as a supplement, as it has antioxidant properties which protect cells from damage. However, too much selenium can lead to selenosis. Its regulation level is 1.0 ppm.
Silver
Silver is used in jewelry, coins, dental fillings, mirrors, of course, silverware. Exposure to silver can happen either through inhalation or ingestion. Overexposure to silver can cause argyria, which can turn the skin a blue or grey color and interfere with breathing patterns. The EPA sets a limit of 5 ppm for silver waste.

By being aware of the regulated concentrations of each of the RCRA 8 metals, you will be better suited to dispose of them in an EPA-compliant manner. For example, if the degree of one of these hazardous metals exceeds the allowable limit, the waste must be treated as hazardous.
But if the concentration of the metal is below the limit, the waste can legally be disposed of in a landfill, which is much less expensive.

Testing Hazardous Concentrations in Waste: the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure

The only way to ascertain the concentration of hazardous compounds inside waste is by testing the waste in a process called the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP). The TCLP is a method used to simulate leaching through a landfill and analyzes the presence and volume of hazardous substances within waste. There are four main features of the TCLP, which include:
  1. Sample preparation for leaching;
  2. Sample leaching;
  3. Preparation of leachate for analysis; and
  4. Leachate analysis
This test will help you better understand whether or not your waste can be land-disposed, or if it must be treated and disposed of as hazardous waste.

Understanding the characteristics and regulation of hazardous wastes is vital—and can mean the difference between compliance and fines.
If you would like to learn more about RCRA regulation, please take a moment to download our free eBook, Hazardous Waste: Basics for the First Time Generator. Or, if you would like to speak to an expert about disposing of RCRA 8 metals waste, give us a call today at 800-936-2311.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Friday, October 24, 2014

Fluorescent lamp recycling

Fluorescent lamp recycling is the recovery of the materials of a spent fluorescent lamp for the manufacture of new products. Glass tubing can be turned into new glass articles, brass and aluminium in end caps can be reused, the internal coating can be reprocessed for use in paint pigments, and the mercury contained in the lamp can be reclaimed and used in new lamps.[1] In the United States, about 620 million fluorescent lamps are discarded annually; proper recycling of a lamp prevents emission of mercury into the environment, and is required by most states for commercial facilities.[2] The primary advantage of recycling is diversion of mercury from landfill sites; the actual scrap value of the materials salvaged from a discarded lamp is insufficient to offset the cost of recycling.[3]


Mercury in lamps[edit]

The amount of mercury in a fluorescent lamp varies from 3 to 46 mg, depending on lamp size and age.[4] Newer lamps contain less mercury and the 3–4 mg versions are sold as low-mercury types. A typical 2006-era 4 ft (122 cm) T-12 fluorescent lamp (i.e., F32T12) contains about 12 milligrams of mercury.[5] In early 2007, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association in the US announced that "Under the voluntary commitment, effective April 15, 2007, participating manufacturers will cap the total mercury content in CFLs under 25 watts at 5 milligrams (mg) per unit. CFLs that use 25 to 40 watts of electricity will have total mercury content capped at 6 mg per unit."[6]
Only a few tenths of a milligram of mercury are required to maintain the vapor, but lamps must include more mercury to compensate for the part of mercury absorbed by internal parts of the lamp and no longer available to maintain the arc. Manufacturing processes have been improved to reduce the handling of liquid mercury during manufacture and improve accuracy of mercury dosing.[7]
Mercury-free discharge lamps have considerably lower production of visible light, about half; mercury remains an essential component of fluorescent lamps.[8]
A broken fluorescent tube will release its mercury content. Safe cleanup of broken fluorescent bulbs differs from cleanup of conventional broken glass or incandescent bulbs.[how?] 99% of the mercury is typically contained in the phosphor, especially on lamps that are near their end of life.[9]

Phosphors[edit]

Lamps made up to the 1940s used toxic beryllium compounds, which were implicated in the deaths of factory workers.[10][11] However, it is very unlikely that one would encounter any such lamps.[12]
Formerly, toxic materials such as beryllium, arsenic, cadmium, and thallium were used in phosphor manufacture. Modern halophosphate phosphors resemble the chemistry of tooth enamel. The rare-earth doped phosphors are not known to be harmful.[13]

Mercury containment[edit]

When discarding a fluorescent tube, the main concern is the mercury, which is an important pollutant. One way to avoid releasing mercury into the environment is to combine it with sulfur to form mercury sulfide, which is insoluble in water. One advantage of sulfur is its low cost. The reaction is shown with the equation:
Hg + S → HgS
The easiest way to combine sulfur and mercury is to cover a group of fluorescent tubes with sulfur dust and break them; when the glass is put into a bag to continue with the reaction, the mercury will combine with sulfur without any other action. The glass can be recycled where an appropriate facility exists. A quantity of 25 kg of dust sulfur is enough for 1000 tubes.

Disposal methods[edit]

The disposal of phosphor and mercury toxins from spent tubes can be an environmental hazard. Governmental regulations in many areas require special disposal of fluorescent lamps separate from general and household wastes. For large commercial or industrial users of fluorescent lights, recycling services are available in many nations, and may be required by regulation. In some areas, recycling is also available to consumers.
Spent fluorescent lamps are typically packaged prior to transport to a recycling facility in one of three ways: boxed for bulk pickup, using a prepaid lamp recycling box, or crushed for pickup. A fluorescent lamp crusher can attach directly to a disposal drum and contain dust and mercury vapor. [14] In some states, drum top crushers and self crushing lamps is not allowed. Minnesota Department of Health Drum Top Bulb Crusher Demonstration Disposal methods are regulated at both the state and federal level. Proper recycling of fluorescent lamps can reduce risk of human exposure to mercury. Companies that recycle spent fluorescent lamps include Air Cycle Corporation, Mercury Technologies of Minnesota, Inc., USA Lamp & Ballast Recycling, Inc, Waste Management, and Veolia.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mercury Converted to Its Most Toxic Form in Ocean Waters

University of Alberta-led research has confirmed that a relatively harmless inorganic form of mercury found worldwide in ocean water is transformed into a potent neurotoxin in the seawater itself.



After two years of testing water samples across the Arctic Ocean, the researchers found that relatively harmless inorganic mercury, released from human activities like industry and coal burning, undergoes a process called methylation and becomes deadly monomethylmercury.



Unlike inorganic mercury, monomethylmercury is bio-accumulative, meaning its toxic effects are amplified as it progresses through the food chain from small sea creatures to humans. The greatest exposure for humans to monomethylmercury is through seafood. The researchers believe the methylation process happens in oceans all over the world and that the conversion is carried out by microbial life forms in the ocean.



The research team, led by recent U of A biological sciences PhD graduate Igor Lehnherr, incubated seawater samples collected from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Lehnherr says conversion of inorganic mercury to monomethylmercury accounts for approximately 50 per cent of this neurotoxin present in polar marine waters and could account for a significant amount of the mercury found in Arctic marine organisms. The researchers say this is the first direct evidence that inorganic mercury is methylated in seawater.



The research was published earlier this month online in Nature Geoscience.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110427131935.htm



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mercury Converted to Its Most Toxic Form in Ocean Waters

University of Alberta-led research has confirmed that a relatively harmless inorganic form of mercury found worldwide in ocean water is transformed into a potent neurotoxin in the seawater itself.


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•After two years of testing water samples across the Arctic Ocean, the researchers found that relatively harmless inorganic mercury, released from human activities like industry and coal burning, undergoes a process called methylation and becomes deadly monomethylmercury.



Unlike inorganic mercury, monomethylmercury is bio-accumulative, meaning its toxic effects are amplified as it progresses through the food chain from small sea creatures to humans. The greatest exposure for humans to monomethylmercury is through seafood. The researchers believe the methylation process happens in oceans all over the world and that the conversion is carried out by microbial life forms in the ocean.



The research team, led by recent U of A biological sciences PhD graduate Igor Lehnherr, incubated seawater samples collected from the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Lehnherr says conversion of inorganic mercury to monomethylmercury accounts for approximately 50 per cent of this neurotoxin present in polar marine waters and could account for a significant amount of the mercury found in Arctic marine organisms. The researchers say this is the first direct evidence that inorganic mercury is methylated in seawater.



The research was published earlier this month online in Nature Geoscience.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110427131935.htm



Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How You Can be more active and responsible with our Oceans

sea nettles, disneynature, oceans, scuba diver

OCEANS was "a magnificent effort from a highly skilled team of fimmakers from all over the world," says Earle.

“Beneath the surface, it all becomes clear that what we put into the ocean doesn’t just go away,” Dr. Sylvia Earle says in an early-morning interview.

Called “Her Deepness” by the New Yorker and The New York Times and “Living Legend” by the Library of Congress, Earle is a world-renowned oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, among many other accolades.

A former chief scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), Earle earned her Ph.D. from Duke and holds 15 honorary degrees.

She has also logged more than 6,000 hours underwater, led the first team of women aquanauts in 1970 and set a record for solo diving to a depth of 3,300 feet. But we don’t list these honors to tout her aqueous accomplishments, but rather to set the tone that Earle knows her stuff.

“We thought of the ocean as the ultimate garbage disposal, but now it’s coming back to haunt us, especially in the fish that are high in the food chain,” she continues. “All of the top predators that are in our menus, they are loaded with the things we put in the sea – mercury, fire retardants, pesticides, herbicides.”

“And in the past 20 years at least, I’ve not done any dive anywhere that I haven’t seen trash that humans have put there.”

Q&A with Sylvia Earle

Among her many accomplishments, Earle was also the scientific advisor and a part of the “cheering squad” for Disneynature’s newest film, OCEANS. Called “a magnificent piece of work” and “a tribute to the ocean,” Earth911 had the opportunity to talk with Earle not only about the film, but about how our everyday decisions are affecting one of our most precious natural resources. Below are a few of the highlights from our conversation.

EARTH911: What is the No. 1 problem that you see affecting our oceans at this moment?

SYLVIA EARLE: I think there are some major issues. What we’re putting into the ocean, the trash, debris, the garbage, and what we’re taking out – too much of the wildlife. By the middle of the 21st century, there really won’t be the large fish that we are accustomed to – the tuna, the grouper, the sharks.

But the biggest problem is getting people to know, to understand, to make the connection back to us. We’ve learned more about the ocean in the past 50 years than in all of history put together. Whole mountain ranges, hydrothermal vents, the fact that there are many thousands more volcanoes underwater than above – these are discoveries that have come about since I was a kid.

But the big discovery is that there are limits to what we can put in and take out, but that we can also make a difference and do something about it. When areas are protected, it’s incredible – they have a chance to recover because the ingredients [the underwater flora and fauna that make up a particular ecosystem] are all still there.

There are only 10 percent of the sharks left in the ocean from when I was a kid. Knowing these things should inspire people to take action. It’s now considered a real gift when you go out in the ocean and see a whale or a turtle or a tuna. Instead of saying ‘I better eat it before it’s gone,’ we should be protecting it before it’s gone.

EARTH911: What can the average person do to make a difference regarding our oceans, even if they’re in a land-locked state?

EARLE: Well, one thing that Pierce Brosnan [narrator of the film] makes clear is that with every breath we take, every drop of water we use, you are connected and dependent on the ocean. The ocean has, over the years, been our life-support system. Now it’s becoming clear that we have to take conscious action to take care of it.

Part of the proceeds of the film will be dedicated to establishing protected areas by the Nature Conservancy. It’s one of the things people can do locally, statewide, nationally, internationally – bring about marine protected areas; that we just choose to embrace them as we do national parks – as a life insurance policy for ourselves.

A fraction – about 1 percent of the ocean worldwide – is in a marine protected area. Much more needs to be done.  [...] This I think will be a revelation to many. A lot is going on underwater that we should know about, think about and care about, and really protect these creatures and not think of them as commodities to be consumed.

EARTH911: As the host of the nation’s largest recycling database, we’re obviously interested in reducing waste output. How integral do you think recycling efforts are to protecting the ocean?

EARLE: Absolutely critical. There are a few scenes [in the film] that show what we’re doing to the ocean, the trash, the debris. A shopping cart underwater that looks so out of place. [...] It’s not just the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but it’s true throughout the ocean. We can’t just be deep sixing things [the practice of throwing garbage into the sea].

Where we go from here

Clownfish in coral reef, disneynature, oceans

"Coral reefs are 50 percent of what they were, and they are affected by the global warming trend, the extraction of the wildlife that makes up the reef system and ocean acidification," according to Earle. Establishing marine protected areas is one way to preserve coral reefs.

A major focus in national media, areas such as garbage patches and waste in the ocean have garnered a great deal of attention lately. But despite this, it’s our own attention to the litter we produce that can have a true impact on the sea.

“Marine debris is a problem that starts with litter,” according Keith Christman, managing director of plastics markets for the American Chemistry Council (ACC), “and we must work together to prevent litter and increase proper waste management such as recycling.”

Indeed, preventing waste from reaching the ocean is a task that belongs to everyone.

“All of us share a responsibility to help reduce litter and prevent our coastlines and oceans from becoming repositories for waste,” according to an ACC press release. “Working together, we can contribute to cleaner oceans, beautiful coastlines, and a better environment for future generations.”

To help with litter prevention, be sure to carry out all trash that you bring when you visit coastlines or waterways, and take advantage of recycling that may be readily available there. Also, learn more about the local and retailer-based recycling opportunities in your area to ensure you recycle as many materials as possible.

Additionally, Earle encourages the establishment and support of underwater preserves and protected areas, as scientists estimate that coral reefs, such as those of the Caribbean, could be gone in 50 years without a network of well-managed marine protected areas.

The Nature Conservancy is an organization that establishes marine protected areas, and worked directly with OCEANS to establish these regions through its “See ‘OCEANS,’ Save Oceans” campaign. More than 35,000 acres of coral reef in The Bahamas will now be protected on behalf of the moviegoers who came out to see the movie during its opening week.

At 55 square miles, this protected area of coral reefs will be almost two-and-a-half times the size of Manhattan – the equivalent of more than 412 Disneylands. But as Earle mentioned earlier, less than 1 percent of our oceans fall under “protected” status.

Perhaps after making a stronger connection between our everyday choices (where our food comes from or where our trash goes, for example) we will all feel a bit more empowered to responsibly manage our waste.

Posted via web from Newport Beach Blog

HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles

http://www.ewastedisposal.net