Frequent Questions

How does EPA regulate mercury in waste?

Some wastes containing mercury are not regulated as hazardous wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Examples of these types of waste include household waste, wastes properly managed by conditionally exempt small quantity generators, or wastes that contain mercury but do not leach above the hazardous waste characteristic level of 0.2 mg/l based on the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) (40 CFR 261.24 . 

Mercury bearing hazardous wastes are either specifically listed as hazardous wastes or are hazardous because they exhibit the characteristic of toxicity for mercury. Different categories of mercury hazardous waste have different regulatory requirements (go to mercury hazardous waste regulated under RCRA). In addition to waste management requirements under RCRA (such as record keeping, reporting, transportation, etc.), these wastes are required to be properly treated before being land disposed to reduce mobility and toxicity and to provide protection to human health and the environment. EPA accomplishes this by setting treatment standards for all hazardous waste bound for land disposal (40 CFR 268.40). In addition to these Federal regulations, the States may have more comprehensive or stringent requirements of their own.

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