Reactive Wastes

reactSel swf

Reactive wastes are wastes that readily explode or undergo violent reactions. A waste is considered reactive if it:

  • Explodes or reacts violently when exposed to water or under normal handling conditions
  • Creates toxic fumes or gases when exposed to water or under common handling conditions
  • Is a cyanide or sulfide bearing waste which, when exposed to pH conditions between 2 and 12.5, can generate toxic gases, vapors or fumes in a quantity sufficient to present a danger to human health or the environment
  • Capable of detonation or explosive reaction if it is subjected to a strong initiating source or if heated under confinement
  • Meets the criteria for classification as a forbidden explosive or a class B explosive under Department of Transportation rules

The criteria to identify reactive wastes are purely narrative and descriptive criteria, and can be difficult to test under laboratory conditions. It is fairly straightforward to determine reactivity for pure or relatively pure waste compounds, but mixtures pose a dilemma for two reasons:

  • In many cases there are no reliable test methods for mixtures.
  • Waste handlers are allowed to use their knowledge about the reactive waste.

These two limitations assume that the dangers posed by reactive wastes are well known to the waste handlers who deal with them.


Title 22 CCR 66261.23
49 CFR 173.88 as amended May 19, 1980
49 CFR 173.53 as amended April 5, 1967
HSC 25141.5(b)(1)