California Hazardous Waste Regulations – A Brief Overview of Classification of Wastes

  • By: Staff Editor
  • Date: September 16, 2011
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California follows the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations as well as state-specific requirements detailed in Title 22, California Code of Regulations. The regulations are enforced by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

How the regulations define hazardous waste
California’s definition and classification of waste is more detailed and specific than federal regulations. Besides the listed and characteristic wastes under federal regulations and California’s own list of non-hazardous wastes, also included in the regulations are extremely hazardous wastes and special wastes. Generators have to apply the factors described in the regulations to determine the classification of the waste they generate.
Hazardous waste: Waste is considered hazardous if it is listed or characteristic or if it is a mixture of both.
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RCRA Hazardous waste: Hazardous waste is presumed to be an RCRA hazardous waste unless or until the generator determines that the waste is non-RCRA hazardous waste. A hazardous waste is an RCRA hazardous waste if:
  • It exhibits characteristics of ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, or toxicity;
  • It is listed as a hazardous waste and has not been excluded the federal regulations; or
  • It is identified as a hazardous waste.

Non-RCRA Hazardous Waste: A hazardous waste is considered non-RCRA hazardous waste if:
  • It does not exhibit any of the characteristics of ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity or toxicity;
  • It exhibits characteristics of corrosivity and toxicity, or otherwise meets the definition of a hazardous waste;
  • It is not listed as a hazardous waste, or is listed and has been excluded by the federal regulations; or
  • It is listed and is not identified as a RCRA hazardous waste.
Extremely hazardous waste: This type of waste:
  • Has an acute oral LD
  • 50 less than or equal to 50 milligrams per kilogram; or
  • Has an acute dermal LD50 less than or equal to 43 milligrams per kilogram; or
  • Has an acute inhalation LC50 less than or equal to 100 parts per million as a gas or vapor; or
  • Contains any of the substances listed in the regulations at a single or combined concentration equal to or exceeding 0.1 percent by weight; or
  • Has been shown through experience or testing that human exposure to the waste or material may likely result in death, disabling personal injury or serious illness because of the carcinogenicity, high acute or chronic toxicity, bioaccumulative properties, or persistence in the environment of the waste or material; or
  • Is water-reactive.
Hazardous Wastes of Concern: A hazardous waste of concern is a hazardous waste that is identified on the Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifest with one of the following hazard divisions within the U.S. DOT description, or otherwise known as:
  • An explosive material, hazard division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3, as defined in the CFR; or
  • A poisonous material, hazard division 6.1, packing group I or II, as defined in the CFR; or
  • A poisonous gas, hazard division 2.3, as defined in the CFR.
Special Wastes: A hazardous waste which meets all of the following criteria and requirements should be classified as a special waste:
  • It is a solid, a water-based sludge or a water-based slurry of which the solid constituents are substantially insoluble in water;
  • It is a hazardous waste only because it contains a persistent or bioaccumulative substance at a solubilized and extractable concentration exceeding its Soluble Threshold Limit Concentration (STLC), or at a total concentration exceeding its Total Threshold Limit Concentration (TTLC), except that:
    •  It should contain no persistent or bioaccumulative listed substances at a solubilized and extractable concentration in milligrams per kilogram of waste exceeding the TTLC value for the substance; and
    • It should contain no persistent or bioaccumulative inorganic substance at a concentration equal to or exceeding the TTLC value of the substance.
The following wastes come under the Special Wastes category:
  • Ash from burning of fossil fuels, biomass and other combustible materials;
  • Auto shredder waste;
  • Baghouse and scrubber wastes from air pollution control;
  • Catalyst from petroleum refining and chemical plant processes;
  • Cement kiln dust;
  • Dewatered sludge from treatment of industrial process water;
  • Dewatered tannery sludge;
  • Drilling mud from drilling of gas and oil wells;
  • Refractory from industrial furnaces, kilns and ovens;
  • Sand from sandblasting;
  • Sand from foundry casting;
  • Slag from coal gasification;
  • Sulfur dioxide scrubber waste from flue gas emission control in combustion of fossil fuels; or
  • Tailings from the extraction, beneficiation and processing of ores and minerals.
Additional resources
Read the chapter on categories of hazardous waste in the California Code of Regulations in full


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