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Non-Hazardous Contaminants

Last updated: January 1, 2019

What Does Non-Hazardous Contaminants Mean?

A non-hazardous contaminant is a substance present in the workplace environment that does not provide an intrinsic risk to human health or safety due to worker exposure.

Non-hazardous contaminants are generally considered to be those that are neither corrosive, toxic, ignitable, or reactive with other substances.

Safeopedia Explains Non-Hazardous Contaminants

These substances may be introduced into an environment unintentionally, or they may be created as a natural byproduct of the activity being conducted within a specific workplace (e.g. manufacturing activity). A similar term includes “non-hazardous secondary material,” which refers to any material that is not the primary product of a manufacturing or commercial process.

Whether a contaminant is hazardous or non-hazardous is important for determining how to safely conduct worker and environmental decontamination processes, as well as for determining the safety measures necessary to prevent secondary contamination of non-work sites (e.g. break rooms). Non-hazardous contaminants can typically be cleaned using ordinary physical methods or simple solvents, and they don't pose a significant risk of harmful reactions or cause toxicity in workers. They are subject to reduced safety standards compared to hazardous contaminants and are often not part of workplace safety communication standards.

Despite their reduced potential for harm, non-hazardous contaminants are still an important safety consideration due to their potential to interfere with operational processes, to be transported into environments where they may become hazardous, or to become hazardous if allowed to build up in certain quantities within an environment (e.g., air contaminants). The correct handling of non-hazardous contaminants is governed by OSHA’s waste disposal and decontamination standards.


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