The EPA applies two criteria in selecting four characteristics as inherently hazardous in any substance:

The characteristics must be listed in terms of physical, chemical, or other properties causing the waste to meet the definition of a hazardous waste in the act; and The properties defining the characteristics must be measurable by standardized, available testing protocols.

The second criterion was adopted because generators have the primary responsibility for determining whether a solid waste exhibits any of the characteristics. EPA regulation writers believed that unless generators were provided with widely available and uncomplicated methods for determining whether their wastes exhibited the characteristics, the identification system would not work (U.S. EPA 1990).

Because of this second criterion, the EPA did not add carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, bioaccumulation potential, or phytotoxicity to the characteristics. The EPA considered the available protocols for measuring these characteristics either insufficiently developed, too complex, or too highly dependent on skilled personnel and professional equipment. In addition, given the current knowledge of such characteristics, the EPA could not confidently define the numerical threshold levels where characteristic wastes would present a substantial hazard (U.S. EPA 1990).

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