Analytical chemistry plays a major role in the hazardous waste field, but the hazardous waste analyte/matrix relation generates an additional dimension of sample complexity not encountered in other disciplines. Hazardous waste analytes are clearly defined by regulations; however, no classification systems exist for hazardous waste matrices. This presents a problem when applying regulatory methodology to waste streams, as no information is included as to the methods applicability or suitability.
Twenty four basic hazardous waste classes have been defined based on materials most frequently occurring in waste management operations. The definitions are based on the physico-chemical composition of about 1000 samples received at the CWMI Technical Center. The system can classify 90 to 95 per cent of the samples received within CWMI. Multiphase mixtures can easily fit into the system by considering each phase as a unique matrix. All of the hazardous wastes having waste classification codes can be fit into this system. The development of a uniform, systematic waste classification system provides a viable solution as to which analytical methods are applied to the diverse types of hazardous wastes. This work parallels and facilitates advances in the areas of hazardous materials disposal research, analytical methods development, and QA/QC programs, by providing uniform and realistic reference material classifications.