Hazardous materials are items that can pose substantial threats to living organisms and to the environment. There is, therefore, a lot of emphasis placed on the manufacture, use, and disposal of these items. Hazardous material storage is also an area of great concern. It is generally recognized that hazardous materials need to be kept in a manner that reduces potential risks.
There can be several levels of hazardous material storage regulation. Laws may be issued by federal, state, and local governments. Additional rules may also be outlined by businesses and institutions that come into contact with hazardous materials. There are also good practices that individuals are encouraged to follow.
Clear identification is one of the most important rules of hazardous material storage. It is generally considered bad practice, and may be illegal, to store hazardous materials without proper labeling. All items should be labeled so anyone who comes into contact with them is able to determine what they are. It is also advisable to note that the materials are hazardous since some people may not be familiar with certain items.
Hazardous material storage regulations may also dictate how long items may be kept. As with food, some items have expiration dates. Items that are kept beyond those dates can become more dangerous. It is good practice to store older items where those who need them can easily get them so they can be used first. Some items may not be suitable for storage at all.
Many hazardous materials are incompatible. If they are mixed, there can be a number of negative results such as toxic fumes or explosions. Regulations often dictate that different items must be stored separately to prevent these risks. Separate storage can mean keeping different items in different containers. In some cases, however, it is necessary to store different items in different areas.
The containers that such items are kept in also tend to be a matter of regulation. Some types of containers are not suitable to store certain types of materials. When these materials are placed in inadequate storage receptacles, risky circumstances are often created. Leaking may occur, which can result in the items coming into contact with others items they are incompatible with. Fumes could also create a gaseous environment that may be combustible.
Hazardous material storage regulations may also dictate the circumstances under which items can be kept. Many hazardous materials are affected by their environments. They could become more dangerous if they are kept in a place that is not the correct temperature or if they are exposed to sunlight. Due to the risks they pose, it is often required that hazardous materials be kept a certain distance from things such as water supplies and food.