There are many jobs people do not appreciate until they stop and think about what it would be like if they had to do that work. Such is the case with those who do hazardous waste cleanup. “Hazardous waste” covers a lot of ground and basically is applied to anything that could be potentially harmful or dangerous to people.
If it’s bad for you and is of little to no practical value in any situation, it falls under the umbrella. These materials can include residuals from dry cleaning machines, post-production waste from assembly lines, radioactive material, biological waste, medical supplies, and much more.
So, what do hazardous waste cleanup companies do? There are many things that fall under this job description, and each one helps to keep people safe and healthy. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at what it is like to be part of a hazardous waste cleanup crew like that of HCI Environmental.
When DIY Is Deadly or Dangerous
Many people end up being exposed to potentially hazardous and dangerous materials without realizing it when they try to do repairs and work themselves. Some DIYs are fine, but others are best handled by professionals who know how to stay safe. By definition, hazardous waste poses a threat if it is not handled, used, stored, or disposed of properly.
Chemicals can leach into your body through your skin, or you can breathe in fumes or accidentally ingest toxic materials. Biohazardous waste can make you and others very sick, and some can even cause death. Other materials may seem harmless but can be extremely flammable, corrosive, or otherwise harmful. Working with professional waste removal teams is the safest way to handle potentially dangerous DIY projects.
Death or Crime Scenes
It is a sad reality that people die every day. Sometimes, it is in their homes or in the hospital. Sometimes, it is in a traffic accident or other tragic accident. Sometimes, it is during a violent crime. Whenever someone dies, though, there is usually some amount of cleanup that is needed.
Depending on what happened, cleanup may be quick and easy, or it may be gritty and taxing. Most people are ill-prepared to safely handle situations like this, especially when blood or other body fluids are present, as they are a prime vector for the spread of diseases. A professional hazardous waste cleanup company has to be the one to handle these kinds of scenarios.
On a related note, hazardous cleanup teams also handle the removal and disposal of biohazards. These typically include human remains, urine, fecal matter, vomit, blood, and any other substances bodies can produce.
Because the risk for infection and the spread of diseases is high, with everything from STDs to communicable diseases being a concern, there are strict guidelines for dealing with this type of waste. Biohazardous substances are more than just disgusting; they can be deadly if not handled correctly. Medical facilities, funeral homes, nursing homes, and similar places are where most biohazards are generated, but there are many ways that someone can come into contact with these hazardous materials.
Everything from unused medications to illicit drugs can become hazardous. Stockpiles of old medications and large quantities of illegal stress drugs can be hazardous if they are spilled or otherwise get out into the environment.
Hazardous waste cleanup crews deal with medical waste and illegal sunbathes at times after police raids and post-medical issues. They also deal with the cleanup of marijuana farms and meth labs to help restore the site to a safe and livable condition once again.
Spills and Leaks
Most of us have seen the warning images on truck tankers, containers, and buildings warning about hazardous materials and supplies. When these end up leaking or spilling, it can create a major health and safety concern, and a cleanup crew must act quickly to mitigate the potential impact. The specifics of the cleanup process will depend largely on what is spilled and how large the potential health hazard is. Small spills are easily cleaned, and damage is mitigated.
Major spills and leaks can cause lasting problems and can be a major undertaking for cleanup crews to handle. During hazardous spills and leaks, containment, clean up, disposal, and remediation are all key focal areas that waste cleanup personnel remain focused on.
Asbestos and Mold
Not all hazardous materials are manmade or even related to humans. A common toxic substance that professional cleaning crews have to handle on a regular basis is something known as asbestos.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance and may not look dangerous, but dangers become evident when it is looked at with a microscope. Asbestos is made of tiny, sharp, thread-like needles that are embedded in soft tissue – mainly in the lungs when it is breathed in by someone. It was once widely used as a building material, and there are many buildings with asbestos in them still today.
Mold is also bad as it can easily spread, and many people are unaware of just how toxic it can be when someone is exposed to it over long periods of time. Both are hazardous and harmful to humans and can make us very sick. They must be properly handled when it comes to cleaning and removal.
When buildings are demolished, there is often a designated hazardous waste cleanup crew assigned to the site. They work with the demolition crew to see if there are potentially harmful substances that can be released during the demolition of the building.
The waste management crews will also be the ones to go into the rubble afterward to retrieve anything that cannot be disposed of with the regular building rubble. Things like medical equipment that might have radioactive components are examples of this.
Dealing with hazardous materials is a risky and delicate process that should only be done by trained and experienced professionals. Working with a hazardous waste cleanup company like HCI Environmental can make it easier to keep everyone safe when hazardous or toxic substances are involved. Click here to learn more and to get in touch with the waste cleanup professionals in your area.