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Waste Identification Guide

To identify a waste chemical, determine the scientific name of the substance. Include all names if it is a mixture of substances. If the scientific name is not on the label of the waste container, refer to the Safety Data Sheet (SDS). Scientific names of chemicals are required to be present on SDSs; they identify a trade-name chemical.


Lists and Criteria

To designate a waste as regulated, determine:

  • If the waste is present on one of the lists of hazardous or dangerous chemicals
  • If the substance has characteristics of hazardous waste
  • If the substance meets certain criteria which would make it a hazardous waste

EPA Waste Lists 

If the chemical name does not appear on any of the lists, the substance may still be a regulated waste.


EPA Characteristics 

For chemicals that are not on these lists, the EPA has defined characteristics, which if met, require the substance to be managed as hazardous chemical waste. These characteristics are identified by the terms ifnitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and toxicity.


Ignitability (D001)

If the waste chemical meets the ignitability characteristics, it is a dangerous waste and carries the D001 waste code. Ignitabile substances include flammable liquids, solids, and gases, and oxidizers. 


Flammable Liquids

  • Defined as a non-aqueous solution with a flash point of less than 60 degrees C or 140 degrees F. Aqueous solutions containing more than 24% alcohol with a flash point of less than 60 degrees C or 140 degrees F are also classfied as flammable liquids.

Flammable Solids

  • Defined as any material that is not a liquid at standard temperature and pressure, but could ignite as a result of friction, through the absorption of moisture, or spontaneously. 

Flammable Gases

Defined as a "compressed gas" in which any one of the following occurs:

  • Either a mixture of 13% or less (by volume) with air forms a flammable mixture or the flammable range with air is wider than 12% regardless of the lower explosive limit.
  • When igniting the gas at the valve, the flame projects more than 18 inches beyond the ignition source with the valve opened fully, or, the flame flashes back and burns at the valve with any degree of valve opening.
  • There is any significant propagation of flame away from the ignition source.
  • There is any explosion of the vapor-air mixture in a drum.


  • Defined as a "substance such as a chlorate, permanganate, inorganic peroxide, or a nitrate, that yields oxygen readily to stimulate the combustion of organic matter.” 
  • Or an organic compound "containing the bivalent-O-O- structure and which may be considered a derivative of hydrogen peroxide where one or more of the hydrogen atoms have been replaced by organic radicals”, unless the material is classified as an explosive, forbidden for transportation, or it is determined that the predominant hazard of the material containing the organic peroxide is other than that of an organic peroxide.

Corrosivity (D002)

If the chemical meets the corrosivity characteristic as indicated below, it is a dangerous waste and carries the D002 waste code.

  • An aqueous solution which exhibits the characteristic of pH less than or equal to 2 or greater than or equal to 12.5.
  • Any material which corrodes steel (SAE 1020) at a rate of 0.250 inches per year at 55oC. (130oF.).
  • Any solid or semi-solid material which, when tested using a specified procedure exhibits a pH less than or equal to 2 or greater than or equal to 12.5.*

Reactivity (D003)

If the waste meets the reactivity characteristic as indicated below, it is a dangerous waste and carries the D003 waste code.

  • Reacts violently upon contact with water, or produces toxic or explosive gases upon contact with water, or
  • Is cyanide or sulfide bearing and when exposed to solution of pH less than 2 or greater than 12.5 produces toxic vapors, or
  • Is capable of detonation or explosion, or
  • It’s classified as a Forbidden Material (49 CFR 173.51), Class A Explosive (49 CFR 173.53), or Class B Explosive (49 CFR 173.88) by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Toxicity (D004-D043)

The toxicity characteris waste list is used to control wastes with toxic characteristics. Chemicals on this list have "D" prefixes. If a waste or any constituent of a waste mixture is on the toxicity characteristic list, it carries the applicable D code.

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