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Common types of dangerous waste

Washington state uses the term "dangerous waste," while the federal government uses the term "hazardous waste." Washington’s rules are more protective of the environment and cover some wastes that are not included in the federal definition.

Dangerous waste is more common than you think. Most businesses in Washington generate some type of dangerous waste — waste that’s potentially harmful to health and the environment. You are responsible for handling and disposing of your waste properly. Here you will find guidance on how to manage many common types of dangerous waste.

Dangerous or hazardous?

Washington's Dangerous Waste Regulations are based on the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Washington's definition of dangerous waste includes more wastes than the federal hazardous waste definition because the state has adopted rules that are more protective than federal rules.

Is it a waste?

If you don’t have a use for something and it will be discarded, it’s a waste. If it's a product that will be used, it may not be waste. Businesses should learn the difference between wastes and products.

Even discarded cleaning products and light bulbs can be dangerous waste. Start by taking a look at the materials you use and the wastes that remain. If you have products labeled “DANGER,” “FLAMMABLE,” “WARNING,” or “POISON,” and they become a waste or are mixed into a waste — you might have a dangerous waste.

Determine whether your waste is dangerous from our step-by-step guide and video: Designate Your Waste — Is it Dangerous?

Wastes by business type

These business activities commonly generate dangerous waste:

Business type Common wastes
Aerospace Aerosol cans, light bulbs, metal cleaning and plating wastes, paints, PCB-containing light ballasts, solvents, thinners, used oils, used shop towels
Automotive and collision repair Antifreeze, batteries, brake fluids, solvents, transmission fluids, used oils, used shop towels
Automotive recycling Aerosol cans, air bags, antifreeze, batteries, brake and carburetor cleaners, brake fluid, contaminated soil, fuel and filters, hot tank solutions, lead, light bulbs, mercury switches, PCB-containing light ballasts, paints, refrigerants, scrap metal, solvents, still bottoms, sump sludges, tires, transmission fluids, used oil and filters, used shop towels
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance Cleaners, disinfectants, fertilizers, lead, light bulbs, pesticides
Construction and demolition Adhesives, aerosol cans, asbestos, cleaners, lead, mercury-containing thermostats or switchespaints, solvents, solvent-soiled rags, thinners, treated wood
Dry cleaning Perchloroethylene (PERC), still bottoms, used filters, wash water or lint contaminated with PERC
Electroplating and metal finishing Acid, aerosol cans, cadmium, cyanide, paint booth filters, paint strippers, solvents, still bottoms, thinners
Federal and military facilities Aerosol cans, air bags, antifreeze, batteries, brake and carburetor cleaners, contaminated soil, fuel and filters, hot tank solutions, lead, light bulbs, mercury switches, PCB-containing light ballasts, paints, refrigerants, scrap metal, solvents, still bottoms, sump sludges, tires, transmission fluids, used oil and filters, used shop towels
Fiberglass and fiber-reinforced plastic Adhesives, foaming agents, overspray solids, initiators and catalysts, reinforcement, release agent, resin, sanding dust, solvents, still bottoms, trim-ends and cut-outs, used shop towels
Healthcare, dentistry, and laboratory work Dental amalgam, developing solution, lab chemicals, pharmaceuticals
Machinery and plant maintenance and operations Antifreeze, oil, paints, solvents, thinners
Painting, coating, furniture and wood refinishing Cleanup water, paint and paint products, solvents, and thinner
Printing Inks, solvent-based inks, used shop towels