An Alphabet Soup of Regulatory Acronyms

regulatory acronyms

DOT, EPA, RCRA, NIOSH, OSHA, DEA, & SDS! There are many acronyms and abbreviations in the waste disposal world. This glossary of regulatory acronyms includes those that come up most often.

DOT (US Department of Transportation)

  • Mission: to ensure our Nation has the safest, most efficient and modern transportation system in the world, which improves the quality of life for all American people and communities, from rural to urban, and increases the productivity and competitiveness of American workers and businesses.
  • Set the standard for packaging, paperwork, and signage of all hazardous materials moving via boats, planes, trains, and automobiles.

EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency)

  • Mission: to protect human health and the environment.
  • Set the standard for hazardous waste disposal, including hazardous waste codes, treatment methods, regulatory limits, and many more.
  • In addition to RCRA (below), the EPA is the implementation authority on other environmental laws, such as Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, “Superfund” clean-up projects, and Community Right-to-Know Act.
  • See title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) for all the details.

RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act)

  • This Act gives the EPA the authority to develop the RCRA program establishing the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste.
  • “RCRA” (pronounced “rick-rah”) is often used interchangeably to refer to the law, its regulations, and EPA policy and guidance.
  • If something is “RCRA Regulated,” then you can also think of it as hazardous waste.
  • The amount of hazardous waste a business creates in a month determines its generator status. Federal definitions:
    • VSQG (Very Small Quantity Generator): generates ≤100 kilograms per month of hazardous waste or ≤1 kilogram of acutely (P-listed) hazardous waste; may not accumulate more than 1,000 kilograms of hazardous waste at any time.
    • SQG (Small Quantity Generator): generates ˃100 kilograms, but ˂1,000 kilograms of hazardous waste per month and maintain ≤ 1 kilogram of acutely (P-listed) hazardous waste; may not accumulate more than 6,000 kilograms of hazardous waste at any time. Subject to additional manifest requirements, EPA registration fees, and designated shipping frequencies.
    • LQG (Large Quantity Generator): generates ˃1,000 kilograms of hazardous waste per month or ˃ 1 kilogram of acutely (P-listed) hazardous waste; no total accumulation limits apply. Also subject to additional manifest requirements, EPA registration fees, and designated shipping frequencies as well as additional federal reporting requirements.

NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)

  • Mission: conduct research to reduce worker illness and injury, and to advance worker well-being, promote safe and healthy workers through interventions, recommendations and capacity building, and enhance worker safety and health through global collaborations.
  • A part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • NIOSH maintains the list of hazardous drugs that are known to cause harm, such as the ability to cause a change or mutation in genetic material (genotoxicity).
  • The NIOSH hazardous drugs list is the same one that US Pharmacopeia (USP) references in their standards.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)

  • Mission: to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.
  • An agency of the US Department of Labor
  • OSHA issues workplace health and safety regulations
    • Hazardous chemical exposure, employee access to hazard information, requirements for the use of personal protective equipment, and requirements to prevent falls.

DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency)

  • Mission: to enforce the controlled substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to the criminal and civil justice system of the United States, or any other competent jurisdiction, those organizations and principal members of organizations, involved in the growing, manufacture, or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in the United States; and to recommend and support non-enforcement programs aimed at reducing the availability of illicit controlled substances on the domestic and international markets.
  • A federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Justice under US Department of Justice
  • The DEA dictates specific tracking and disposal procedures for controlled substances.
  • Sharps Compliance manages DEA-CS through incineration, thus preventing diversion of any such substances to illicit purposes.

SDSs (Safety Data Sheets)

  • Per OSHA, SDSs must be provided by the chemical manufacturer, distributor, or importer.
  • They are reference documents that list chemical product information, such as:
    • Chemical properties
    • Physical, health, and environmental hazards
    • Safety precautions for handling, storage, and transportation
  • The details in an SDS can help direct the disposal of a product when it becomes waste.
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Author: Chandra Lippitt

Chandra Lippitt has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Colorado School of Mines. She is certified in RCRA and DOT as well as 40 Hour HAZWOPER certified. Chandra has been in the hazardous waste industry since 2008 and has managed industrial, healthcare, retail, and governmental clients, both large and small.