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Waste Characterization

TestAmerica’s Waste Characterization Support

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requires that any entity that produces or generates a waste must determine if that waste is hazardous. One of the four criteria for determining if a waste is hazardous is if the waste exhibits a characteristic of hazardous waste.  The four characteristics of hazardous waste are: ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity and toxicity.  To measure toxicity, EPA developed a test called the Toxicity Characterization Leaching Procedure (TCLP) that is designed to identify wastes that are likely to leach specified concentrations of chemicals into groundwater.  The TCLP procedure (SW 846 Method 1311) simulates the conditions present in a landfill as liquids percolate through solid waste, and was developed using a subsurface fate and transport model. The TCLP method includes a specific list of organic and inorganic compounds, and includes regulatory levels for each compound.  Federal regulation for the use of TCLP can be found in 40 CFR 261.24

In addition to TCLP, the Synthetic Precipitation Leaching Procedure (SPLP) was designed to estimate the mobility/leachability of organic and inorganic constituents in liquids, soils and wastes in a mono-disposal situation exposed to rainfall.  SPLP (SW 846 Method 1312) is a batch leaching test in which an extraction fluid, created based on the region of the country where the sample is located, is prepared with a sample and is intended to simulate precipitation. 

TCLP and SPLP are both single batch leaching tests which provide a single data point for each constituent of concern. In both procedures, extraction fluid, created based on the region of the country where the sample is located, is prepared with a sample and tumbled in a sealed container to simulate natural leaching conditions.  Following the tumbling procedure, the leachate created is analyzed for the compounds specified in the regulations.  Any sample containing compounds with concentrations greater than those listed in the regulatory documents are deemed hazardous based on its toxicity characteristics. 

How Can TestAmerica Help You?

To help clients safely manage wastes, TestAmerica provides laboratory analyses for ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity and toxicity and supports a variety of tests to evaluate the potential of organic and inorganic constituents to leach into the environment.  TestAmerica provides comprehensive waste characterization analysis services for a wide variety of environmental waste matrices from soils, sediment, oil, and debris.

The method references for TCLP and SPLP are:

SW 846 Method 1311

Toxicity Characterization Leaching Procedure [TCLP]

SW 846 Method 1312

Synthetic Precipitation Leaching Procedure [SPLP]

The State of California uses TCLP concerning toxicity and it applies an additional set of leaching procedures as defined in Titles 22 and 26 of the California Code of Regulation called the Waste Extraction Test [WET].   The results of the California WET tests are compared to their respective regulatory limit's Total Threshold Limit Concentrations (TTLCs) and the Soluble Threshold Limit Concentrations (STLCs). The WET test is similar to TCLP as it simulates landfill leachate, and it has a list of inorganic and organic compounds and concentration thresholds.  It is different than TCLP in that it uses a different liquid to solid ratio, extractant, length of time for extraction and different compounds lists.

The method reference for WET is:

Title 22 California Code of Regulations, Appendix II 

Waste Extraction Test [WET] Procedures

TestAmerica supports additional leaching tests that include leaching tests used for evaluating potential impacts to water quality used by other programs, states or federal agencies.  Information on the next generation of leaching tests, EPA’s Leaching Environmental Assessment Framework [LEAF] methods and other leaching methods, please visit our Specialty Leaching Methods page.

TestAmerica has unmatched capacity to supports our clients with TCLP, SPLP and WET testing.  TestAmerica has the largest inventory of Zero Headspace Extractors and Rotary Agitators for TCLP extractions in the county resulting in unmatched capacity, especially when fast turnaround for waste characterization is required.