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Conference Proceeding

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Sanitary landfills, Hazardous wastes -- United States, Household supplies -- Safety measures, Recycling (Waste, etc.)


Municipal Solid wastes--the majority of which are household refuse--have, increasingly been implicated as a source of hazardous materials in landfill leachate discharges (U.S. EPA 1988). Data collected on the components of these wastes are critical for solid wastes systems planning--especially landfill design, hazardous materials collection systems, and resource recovery. A number of recent studies by the University of Arizona's Garbage Project have identified household products as a possible source of hazardous materials in landfills (Wilson 1985, Rathje et al. 1987a, 1987b). Studies have addressed (1) the definition of these "household hazardous wastes" (HHW), (2) the characteristics of HHW from hands-on analyses of residential solid wastes in four United States study cities and Mexico City, Mexico, (3) the relationships between derived waste characteristics and within-study city Socioeconomic variability and variability between the regions studied and (4) the potential biodegradation pathways and characteristics of municipal landfill leachates. Results of these studies suggest that: (1) While HHW comprises a very small proportion of the total residential solid wastes, total quantities generated per year are quite high. (2) Significant differences in HHW discard rates are observed between both study communities and census tracts within study communities. (3) Socioeconomic variability between census tracts (within study communities), are related to the differential discard of HHW and, we believe, can be used to estimate characteristics of HHW in U.S. cities without necessitating further large-scale, costly, refuse sorts. (4) Long-term discard trends for HHW may influence the levels of risk associated with these wastes. Garbage Project HHW studies have been funded at the national level by the Water Quality Engineering Division of the National Science Foundation and the Office of Solid Wastes of the Environmental Protection Agency and at the local level by city and county governments, private research organizations, and university departments.


This conference paper was presented at the Fourth International Conference on Urban Solid Waste Management and Secondary Materials on February 27, 1989.

This conference paper was turned into the following journal article: Wilson, D., & Rathje, W. (1989). Structure and dynamics of household hazardous wastes. Journal of Resource Management and Technology, 17(4), 200-206.

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