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«September 2016 Version 2 1 DISCLAIMER This guide is not a regulation, nor can it be considered a substitute for the actual regulations, related laws, ...»

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Solvents in the Workplace

How to Determine If They Are Hazardous Waste

September 2016

Version 2



This guide is not a regulation, nor can it be considered a substitute for the actual regulations,

related laws, and applicable court decisions. This guide presents EPA’s interpretation of the

federal RCRA hazardous waste regulations; the reformatted Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)

language in this guide is not a substitute for the CFR or its requirements.

Note to Reader: Version 2 corrects typographical errors, a few caused by formatting problems in Table 1, further clarifies solvents that still can be used are nevertheless considered to be a spent material if they are instead sent for reclamation, and further describes and clarifies the discussion of F003 solvents and land disposal restriction requirements. This version also adds a Question and Answer on substituting alternative or non-hazardous solvents for hazardous solvents as effective substitutes, and clarifies the air emission requirements for solvents recycled on-site.

2 Table of Contents About this guide

1.What are solvents and how are they used?

2. Why do I need to know about solvents?

3. Do I use solvents in my facility?

4. When is a solvent considered a solid waste?

5. I’ve determined my solvent is a solid waste; now when is it a hazardous waste?

6. How do I determine if my solvent is a listed hazardous waste?

6.A. Scope of F-Listings

6.B. Scope of P- and U-listings

7. How do I determine if my solvent is a characteristic hazardous waste?

8. What information should I use as the basis for my hazardous waste determination?

9. Who can help me better understand how to make a hazardous waste determination?

10. What do I do with my solvent waste once I’ve determined it is hazardous?

11. What if I recycle my solvents?

12. Are there any special considerations with certain types of solvents?

12.A. Managing wipes that are contaminated with solvents

12.B. Used oil and solvents – don’t mix!

12.C. Solvents used in dry cleaning

12.D. Remanufacturing Exclusion for Certain Higher-Value Solvents

13. What if I still require additional assistance?


References and other resources

Appendix A: F-Listed Solvents and Corresponding P or U Waste Code, Hazard Code, and TC Code..... 24 Appendix B: Examples of Solvents and whether they are subject to RCRA Hazardous Waste Regulation

Scope of the F-List

Scope of the P- and U-Lists

Characteristically Hazardous Examples

Reducing the Use of Solvents or Use of Alternative Solvents

Used Oil Examples

Dry Cleaning Examples

Solvent-Contaminated Wipes

RCRA Air Emission Regulations

3 About this guide Thousands of American workers use solvents every day in industrial, commercial, and other nonresidential settings. Many of these solvents become hazardous wastes when they can no longer be used for their intended purpose and are discarded. A hazardous waste must be managed safely from its point of generation through recycling or disposal. When one of your solvents can no longer be used, it is your responsibility to determine whether it is a hazardous waste.

The purpose of this guide is to make people who use and discard solvents aware of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste regulations and assist them in making correct hazardous waste determinations for solvents. 1 This guide also includes information about resources to help you reduce your use of solvents or select alternative less-hazardous solvents.

When viewed electronically, this guide contains two types of links. The first link type, in blue, indicates a link to additional information available on EPA’s website. The other link type, in green, indicates a link to additional information on the topic included elsewhere in the document.

When accessing green links, you can use the document navigation feature on the left side of your screen to return to your previous place in the guide if you wish to do so.

This guide is provided by EPA for the convenience of the regulated community, states, and EPA regions. This guide addresses requirements for hazardous waste determination applicable to generators of hazardous waste solvents, but does not address the management standards if the solvent is found to be a hazardous waste. Information about the management of a hazardous waste solvent can be found at EPA’s Hazardous Waste Generators website.

If you use solvents in your workplace, this guide can help you:

• Understand the RCRA hazardous waste rules.

• Improve your understanding of the RCRA hazardous waste regulations associated with solvents.

• Characterize and determine if your waste solvents are classified as hazardous wastes subject to RCRA regulations.

• Answer commonly asked questions about solvents and RCRA.

Most states are authorized to manage their own hazardous waste generator regulatory programs.

Therefore, there may be state regulations that apply in lieu of the federal hazardous waste regulations. While most state hazardous waste regulations are based on the federal requirements, some states have developed regulations that are more stringent than the federal requirements or broader in scope. For example, a state’s program may identify additional solvents when discarded subject to their regulations. For state regulations, contact your state’s environmental regulatory agency or department or visit EPA’s State Programs Web page.

1 The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also has authority to regulate solvents during use when they pose a risk to workers.

4 EPA recommends you contact your authorized state agency or EPA regional office should you have any concerns or doubts about whether your solvent may be a hazardous waste when it can no longer be used and needs to be discarded.

1.What are solvents and how are they used?

Generally, a solvent is a liquid that is either a single chemical or a mixture of chemicals used to dissolve a substance or material. This property allows solvents to be used as cleaning agents, or in chemical manufacturing, or as ingredients in other products. 2

Common uses of solvents include:

• Industrial cleaning and degreasing;

• Dry cleaning;

• Paint thinning and coating;

• Fabric scouring;

• Auto and airplane manufacturing and maintenance; and

• Many other uses.

2. Why do I need to know about solvents?

Many common solvents may be hazardous wastes when they are spent, or can no longer be used.

Also, many commercial chemical products are solvents and are considered a hazardous waste if they are unused when discarded. (See Section 6.B. Scope of P- and U-listings.) Under the RCRA hazardous waste regulations, you are responsible for determining if your spent solvents are hazardous wastes and subject to hazardous waste requirements. If the solvents are hazardous wastes, they must be managed and disposed of (or recycled) properly. If not, you could put yourself, your coworkers, and the general public at risk, and there may be legal consequences for violating the RCRA hazardous waste requirements.

3. Do I use solvents in my facility?

Solvents are used in a variety of applications across many industries. If you are unsure whether solvents are used in your facility or are uncertain about the types of solvents used in your facility’s processes, consider asking facility or plant managers or health and safety personnel, who are good sources of information and may be able to assist you.

Additionally, your employer may be required to provide information if hazardous chemicals are being used in the workplace, under Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Hazard Communications regulations at Title 29 of the CFR in section 1910.1200.

2A solvent may contain either organic or inorganic chemicals. Organic solvents always contain the element carbon while inorganic solvents do not. The most common solvent, water, is an example of an inorganic solvent.

–  –  –

4. When is a solvent considered a solid waste?

Under the RCRA hazardous waste regulations, a solvent must first be classified as a solid waste before it can be considered for classification as a hazardous waste. Under RCRA, the term “solid waste” includes solid materials, liquids, and contained gases. Solvents are solid wastes when they are discarded or recycled in a certain manner, such as when burned for energy recovery.

Solvents are considered solid wastes when they are:

• “Spent” – contaminated through use and no longer able to be used for their intended purpose without first being regenerated, reclaimed, or otherwise reprocessed; 3

• Expired and can no longer be used;

• Off-specification commercial chemical products and can no longer be used;

• Unwanted and/or unused and destined for disposal; or

• Residues, contaminated soil or water, or other debris resulting from cleanup of a solvent spill.

If you are unsure if the solvents in your facility are solid wastes, you can use EPA’s Definition of Solid Waste Decision Tool v2, 4 which walks you through a series of decisions to help you determine whether a material meets the definition of a solid waste.

 If you have determined that one or more solvents in your facility are solid wastes, proceed to the next section to determine whether they are also hazardous wastes.

3 Under EPA’s 2015 Definition of Solid Waste rule, solvents reclaimed in a specified manner may be excluded from regulation as a solid and hazardous waste. States are not required to adopt this rule. See EPA’s Definition of Solid Waste Web page for more information.

4 The DSW Decision Tool is currently housed in EPA’s Archive and may not load properly in all Internet browsers.

We suggest using Internet Explorer to access the tool. This tool is being updated as of the date of this publication to incorporate the 2015 Definition of Solid Waste rule changes. We expect to have it operational soon with a link on the Hazardous Waste Generator webpage.

–  –  –

5. I’ve determined my solvent is a solid waste; now when is it a hazardous waste?

If you have determined that one or more solvents in your facility are solid waste, you should next determine whether they are also hazardous waste. Hazardous waste requires special handling and

proper disposal if it is:

• A listed hazardous waste specifically listed in Title 40 CFR part 261, subpart D and/or

• A characteristic hazardous waste (i.e., ignitable, toxic, reactive, or corrosive) as described in 40 CFR part 261, subpart C.

RCRA requires you to determine if you have generated a listed and/or characteristically hazardous waste as soon as the solvent becomes a solid waste, also known as the point of waste generation.

You cannot make this initial hazardous waste determination later in the process when other materials may have been mixed with the waste or when the waste has changed its physical characteristics as a result of time elapsing. These factors can affect the accuracy of the hazardous waste determination. This standard must be met even if another entity, such as a waste management facility, makes the waste determination on your behalf.

You will need specific information on the chemical composition and other attributes of your solvent in order to determine whether it is a listed hazardous waste and/or a characteristic hazardous waste. If you wish to learn more about identifying the types of information and data sources that you should use in making a hazardous waste determination about your solvents, click here.

 Proceed to the following sections to determine whether your solvent is a listed hazardous waste or a characteristic hazardous waste.

 If you still have questions about solvents, solid waste, and hazardous waste, consider seeking further assistance. However, remember that as the generator of the waste, you are ultimately responsible for making the correct determination for your solvents.

 If you already know that your solvent is a hazardous waste, click here for information on how to manage your hazardous waste in accordance with RCRA regulations.

6. How do I determine if my solvent is a listed hazardous waste?

This section will walk you through determining whether your solvent is a listed hazardous waste.

In order to complete this determination, you will need the chemical composition and/or other identifying information about your solvent. Assistance with the kinds of information you may 7 need to have in order to make this type of determination is provided in later sections in this document.

The first source of information you should examine or review is the actual listing description for

hazardous wastes. 5 There are four lists of hazardous wastes:

• The F-list (non-specific source wastes);

• The K-list (source-specific wastes);

• The P-list (discarded commercial chemical products); and

• The U-list (additional discarded commercial chemical products).

The listed solvents of concern in this guide relate to spent solvents found in the F-list, and unused but discarded commercial chemical product solvents found in P-list, and/or U-lists. These lists are found at 40 CFR part 261, subpart D.

K-listed wastes generally represent industrial process wastes from specific sources, for example, “Wastewater treatment sludges from the production of chrome yellow and orange pigments” (waste code K002). A complete list of K-listed wastes is found at 40 CFR 261.32. Because the K-listed wastes do not include the types of solvent wastes of interest here, they are not addressed in this guide.

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