The short answer for how to dispose of xylene safely and effectively takes only two steps.
- Use this website, Earth911, to search for a registered hazardous waste disposal site. Just type “hazardous waste” into the search bar and then enter your zip code.
- Contact the local hazardous waste disposal site for further instruction. If there are none available, find your nearest EPA office.
Rules and Regulations
The laws and regulations for the disposal of potentially hazardous waste vary from state to state. As such, there are no hard and fast rules for the removal of xylene anywhere.
However, xylenes are classified as hazardous waste by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Handling any xylene for disposal carries strict regulations.
The EPA classifies xylene with hazardous waste numbers U239 and F003. Check your area’s guidelines for the storage, transportation, and disposal procedures for those codes.
If you live within the United States, you can use this map from the EPA to find a local office. This tool can tell you about a location’s specific guidelines for disposing of hazardous materials.
There is also a wealth of information available to view on the EPA’s website. You can explore hotline numbers, hazardous material resources, and regulatory information.
For example, you can contact the following hotlines for further help on potentially dangerous materials.
- Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Hotline at (202) 554-1404 for information on TSCA requirements
- Environmental Justice Hotline at (800) 962-6215 for information on how to address or report environmental, public health, and community issues
- The National Response Center (NRC) hotline at (800) 424-8802, which is the primary federal contact point to report hazardous substance releases
- The Pesticides Hotline available at (800) 858-7378 for scientific information about pesticides and related topics
There are also quite a few region-specific information hotlines available, including:
- EPA Region 1 (New England) at (888) 372-7341
- EPA Region 2 (New York) at (877) 251-4575
- EPA Region 3 (Mid-Atlantic) at (800) 438-2474
Disposing of Xylene at Home
As we mentioned previously, you should not dispose of xylene, or any other potentially hazardous materials, by yourself. Only dangerous waste professionals can handle the substances.
However, if you have xylene in your home, you can use these tips to minimize the risk of hazing hazardous waste in your house:
- Contact your local Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) office when dealing with any unknown or potentially dangerous materials.
- Be sure to read the instructions and packaging for potentially hazardous products at home. Follow all instructions for storage, handling, and temperature management.
- See if there are disposal directions on the product label. There may also be a customer service number you can call for further information about disposing of the product.
- Look out for any warning labels. Sometimes hazardous materials can leak, ignite, or even explode if stored improperly.
- Always keep the dangerous material in its original container with all of the labels intact. If the container is corroding, contact your local hazardous material handling office.
- See if your local HHW offers year-round waste collection services. Check if there are designated dates for disposing of hazardous materials.
- Always handle hazardous waste containers with care, even if they are empty. The residual chemicals may still cause a reaction.
It’s also important to remember that many household products, such as cleaning agents, deodorizers, and upholstery cleaners, contain potentially hazardous chemicals.
Disposal of Xylene at Work or School
In addition to the work of producing xylene, the material itself is used in many different industries. You may come into contact through multiple professions, such as the following.
- Painting: xylene is often present in solvents, paint thinners, lacquers, and paint removers.
- Automotive Professions: xylene exposure can occur through petroleum products.
- Biomedical laboratory researchers: they often use xylene as a cleaning agent and tissue-mending solvent.
In addition, many xylenes are present during the coal mining and processing procedures. Some xylene exposure can still occur in active mine environments.
If you work with xylene at your job or as part of your research at school, odds are there is already an existing process for disposing of this and other hazardous materials.
Check your laboratory manual or research guidelines for proper hazardous waste disposal and storage procedures.
Similarly, if you work with xylene, you should check your organization’s environmental health or hazardous materials contact. There may be a safety committee with more information.
For example, many organizations contract their hazardous waste management services to a certified professional who will come on a regular schedule to dispose of dangerous materials.
The hazardous waste management professionals may require that the xylene be labeled with certain information. Not including that info may result in your waste not being disposed of at all.
If you don’t know where to start looking for your hazardous materials contact person, your organization’s staff directory and website are great places to start.
Dangers of Improper Xylene Handling
All the rules and regulations for the handling and disposal of xylene come from an excellent reason. As a hazardous material, xylene can be dangerous. If you do not have professional training to dispose of such substances, you could get hurt.
According to the CDC, there are quite a few adverse effects that are the possible results of xylene exposure. The severity of the impact depends on the dose and duration of exposure.
When exposed to xylene in small doses, it can irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat. Further exposure can lead to headaches, confusion, dizziness, and coordination loss.
In extreme cases, xylene is a hazardous material with the potential to cause death.
OSHA recommends using causing when handling xylene because they can cause liver and kidney damage, in addition to acting as eye and skin irritants.
The dangers of these chemicals can be present even in empty containers, so take extra caution and don’t be afraid to call your local environmental protection office for advice.
Disposing of Xylene
The recommended methods for the disposal of xylene are incineration and evaporation. Only certified professionals should complete these processes.
Excess xylene should be burned inside a chemical incinerator that is equipped with a scrubber and afterburner. Xylene is highly flammable, so one must take extra care when igniting it.
The appropriate temperature for burning xylene depends on how it is being incinerated.
- For fluidized bed incineration, aiming for a temperature range of 450 to 980 degrees Celsius is safest.
- Rotary kilns should aim for temperatures ranging from 820 to 1,600 degrees Celsius.
- Liquid injection incineration requires a temperature range of 650 to 1,600 degrees Celsius.
Additionally, some professional disposal experts add another flammable solvent when burning xylene to make the process easier.
Contaminated packaging and unused xylene products should also be handled by professionals only and disposed of properly.
How to Tell If a Product Contains Xylene
To be on the safe side, it is best to exercise caution whenever handling household solvents. Many contain xylene or other hazardous materials.
Numerous cleaning products in your home might contain xylene, benzene, methylene chloride, or other potentially dangerous chemicals. Check the items you use for the following tasks for these hazardous substances:
- Dry cleaning or spot removing
- Polishing or waxing (furniture and floors)
- Disinfecting upholstery
It’s also helpful to review the EPA’s Hazardous Waste Identification Guide. It walks you through the steps of identifying potentially dangerous materials and taking the best action.
Hazardous Waste Recycling
In addition to disposal, recycling is often an option for getting rid of hazardous waste. Just like with the disposal process, strict regulations apply to the recycling of xylene.
Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities (TSDF) are designed to temporarily store hazardous wastes before final disposal or treatment. TSDFs must follow all applicable rules.
While it’s always best to reuse things whenever possible, improper recycling of hazardous wastes can hurt natural resources or create environmental hazards.
However, proper treatment and recycling of even dangerous xylenes can provide clean energy and usable raw materials.
Used solvents, such as xylene-based products, can be recycled as a fuel source and used to produce heat, generate electricity, and more.
Recycling xylene by burning can only be accomplished with an EPA-approved combustion unit, boiler, or industrial furnace designed to handle hazardous waste.
It is essential to only recycle hazardous – or potentially hazardous – materials through certified TSDFs. Of course, if your local EPA office has other instructions, follow those.
Handling potentially hazardous materials like xylene is something best left to professionals. The disposal process alone is tricky and highly dangerous.
Due to state regulation changes and updates to federal laws, there are no concrete rules for handling xylene across multiple places.
That’s why it’s essential to check your local, state, and federal laws before you attempt to store, transport, recycle, or dispose of hazardous chemicals.
The best way to figure out your local hazardous waste handling process is to contact your local EPA office or other governmental waste management department.
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