Selection and Validation of a Suite of Suitable Screening Techniques for the Rapid Assessment of Hazardous Properties of Wastes

May 2010


Background to research

The Hazardous Waste Directive (91/689/EEC) and the European Waste Catalogue (EWC) have given a common definition of hazardous waste across the EU. Following implementation of these instruments within UK legislation, there is a requirement to ensure that wastes a reclassified correctly before disposal. This is to ensure the highest standards of environmental protection and to reduce the risk to human health. However, incorrect classification of wastes does occur, and there is a need for rapid detection tests to be identified for the identification of incorrectly classified wastes in the field.

Objectives of research

This project reviewed analytical tests and equipment on the UK market, for their suitability for widespread field use within both industry and regulatory bodies. Such tests should be simple to use, cheap to operator and require little specialist user training prior to use. The research involved desk and laboratory based work, to first identify potentially suitable tests and relevant hazardous waste identification parameters, and then the laboratory trialling of the identified potential field test and analysis methods. Suitable tests and analytical methods could then be publicised for widespread use within both regulatory bodies and industry.

Key findings and recommendations

During the desk based product review phase, no tests or equipment were identified that could give a simple response to the question,’is this waste hazardous?’ Instead a number of different tests were identified for the potential analysis of a number of physical properties or chemical contaminants levels which had been determined to be suitable for the identification of a waste’s hazardous properties. Some of these potential analytical methods and tests were then trialled against waste samples, where laboratory analysis was also carried out on the same samples. The results of the comparison between the field and laboratory tests results showed that the two sets of analytical results gave different classifications to the waste. There were no obvious systematic errors within the two sets of results, making the use of correction factors problematic. The poor nature of the two sets of results meant that the proposed final stage of the project, that of blind trialling the field test methods was not carried out.

Recommendations for further work have been made, which relate primarily to a redefinition of the projects aims.

Key words: Hazardous waste, waste analysis, contaminated land, rapid screening tests, field test methods

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N.B. The report is available for download from the SNIFFER Website