Why is this TCLP/SPLP on a solid sample a common question?
The main reason is that people don’t understand the difference between characterization and hazardous determination. The EPA developed the TCLP Program to determine when certain materials have to go to a “special” hazardous landfill.
What is TCLP?
Toxic Characteristic Leach Procedure – is designed to determine the mobility of both organic and inorganic analytes present in liquid, solid, and multi-phasic wastes. This encompasses 32 odd organic compounds, and 8 metals.
Not every hazardous waste is mobile in every form. For example, a plastic covered car battery which is made in large part out of lead can sit in a salvage yard forever exposed to the elements. What doesn’t happen to the battery is lead mobility through the environment, the lead stays in place until the battery itself is moved to a different resting place (like a landfill).
What is SPLP?
Synthetic Precipitation Leach Procedure – is used to determine which materials (certain specific ones) exist on the outside of surface materials that can be transported through the environment.
This test assignment is not meant to characterize if something is hazardous or not. In actuality SPLP is just a way of gathering an extracted sample that we would run all of our everyday tests (the extracted material is run as if it is a water sample) on.
Do you need either on a solid sample?
This is the 64 million dollar question, how contaminants are “stuck” to solid, in solution with liquids, and/or stuck in some portion of a multi-phasic (?) sample and how you can then possibly free up the contamination so that you can test for it.
Where to find more information
The EPA has developed a better FAQ, it now answers a much larger magnitude of hazardous waste characteristics, it is located at epa.gov/hw-sw846/harardous-waste-characteristics
The use of this FAQ will give you the understanding of what to ask your laboratory for, whether you want normal environmental laboratory analysis or you need regulatory hazardous analysis so that you can ship your waste to the correct landfill.