Gasoline, like many other fuels, is a valuable substance; it’s difficult to imagine a world without being fueled by gasoline. However, gasoline that isn’t combusted but introduced into the environment can endanger the environment and public health.
Whether liquid or as a vapor, gasoline is highly flammable and toxic to living organisms. Uncontrolled burning of gasoline can produce a considerable amount of carbon monoxide and soot which could pollute the air. Liquid gasoline can seep into the ground and penetrate into the groundwater, contaminating the municipal potable water sources.
With serious environmental, health, and legal repercussions in mind, gasoline disposal should be done according to federal or state regulations for public and environmental safety.
How to Dispose of Gasoline?
Gasoline is often used combusted right away. So is there such a thing as waste gasoline? Yes, there is.
Unused amounts of gasoline stored for months in vehicles, lawnmowers, and other fuel-powered equipment can degrade and can become a pollutant. Extra gasoline that is stored in containers in case of emergencies may be unused for months or even years. That old junk car sitting on your lawn may have old fuel in the tank.
This stale fuel can leak out, especially if stored in damaged tanks and containers. The toxic vapors may also permeate out of these tanks and containers, causing a health and environmental hazard.
As such, hazardous waste disposal of gasoline must be done correctly.
Dangers of Gasoline Disposal
Hazardous waste disposal of gasoline starts with you. It’s important to follow the steps mentioned above in order to reduce the hazards of improper gasoline disposal.
Gasoline Disposal Regulations
According to the US federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), gasoline is classified as a “characteristic hazardous waste” because it exhibits two main characteristics:
In the U.S., the disposal, management, and handling of hazardous wastes such as gasoline are regulated by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The EPA is the enforcing arm of RCRA regulations.
Finally, RCRA often requires generators of hazardous wastes to track the life cycle of hazardous waste, from its manufacture to its final disposal, commonly called “cradle to grave” requirements. This record allows the EPA to lessen the amount of illegally disposed of hazardous waste.
Gasoline Disposal Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions regarding hazardous waste disposal of gasoline.
Pour old gasoline into a government-approved and certified gasoline container. Ensure that you only fill up to 95% to make room for the vapors. Seal the container tightly and deliver to the recycling center, hazardous waste disposal facility, auto shop, and other facilities that repurpose, treat, or dispose of old gasoline.
Under the RCRA, gasoline is considered a characteristic hazardous waste as it exhibits two characteristics: ignitability and toxicity. Thus, hazardous waste disposal of gasoline should be disposed of following RCRA regulations.
No. The gasoline permeates through the soil and may contaminate the water table below.
Due to the loose nature of the soil, gasoline can rapidly penetrate the soil layer and can persist in the soil or sediment layer for quite some time although the exact duration is unknown as of this time. However, we could find no recent study or research to determine how long the substance stays in the soil.
If you accidentally spill a small amount of gasoline on the hard, impermeable ground such as your garage floor, use sawdust, rags, or paper to absorb the spill. Put these in a plastic bag and don’t throw it together with the household trash.
If you accidentally spilled gasoline on soil, dig out the soil---around 1 foot deep---around the spilled area. Put the soil in the plastic bag and prepare it for hazardous waste collection.
It depends. If the vapor still remains, there is a potential that the gas may ignite if there are heat sources nearby. But if the gas has completely dissipated, then the chances of spontaneous combustion are negligible.
Gasoline is a valuable commodity, and it makes many of the world’s machines run. While we acknowledge that using fossil fuels is detrimental to the environment, it’s difficult to cease the production and usage of gasoline pending the development of an equally effective alternative fuel source.
While gasoline is a useful fuel, it’s also a dangerous chemical when not handled with care. When it comes to hazardous waste disposal of gasoline, we should understand this fuel’s dangers, stick to safety procedures, and follow the regulations to ensure safe and secure disposal.