Managing Hazardous Waste

We strengthen regulations and streamline waste management

Dust Waste Produced in Jewelry Manufacturing Fact Sheet

January 2002*

What is this waste?

Jewelry manufacturing activities, such as deburring, grinding, and polish­ing, generate metal dust. Jewelry metal soldering, and melting or smelting,either in blow furnaces, induction furnaces, or in ladles or crucibles heated with a torch, also generate metal dust. In addition, some polishing compounds,such as tripoli, generate dust that contains silica.

Why is this waste hazardous?

Dust from melting, smelting, and polishing metals usually contains toxic silica and metallic “fine powders1” that are harmful to human health and the environment. Therefore, dust from jewelry manufacturing operations is usu­ally considered hazardous waste2.

Why must this waste be managed safely?

Because hazardous dust waste from jewelry manufacturing is harmful to human health and the environment, it is important to manage it safely, even if the waste contains precious metals. Current laws and regulations tell you howto manage hazardous waste in order to protect public health and safety, and the environment3. Jewelry Manufacturers can protect public health and safety,and avoid costly fines and penalties, by managing their hazardous wastes in compliance with these laws and regulations.

How should I manage this waste?

If your business generates a hazardous waste, it is your responsibility to prop­erly manage that waste (please see the DTSC fact sheet on “Hazardous Waste Generator Requirements For Jewelry Mart Operators“). The recovery of precious metals from hazardous dust waste is considered hazardous waste treatment4, and requires a permit or grant of authorization.

It is unlawful to dump any hazardous waste into the trash or onto the land, or to pour hazardous waste down the sink, into a storm drain, or down the toilet. It is also unlawful to allow hazardous dust waste from your jewelry manufacturing op­erations to accumulate on the floor, countertops,or other surfaces. It is unlawful to release hazard­ous dust waste, or any other hazardous waste, to the environment. You must collect and contain all of the hazardous dust waste that your business gen­erates. One way to collect and contain your haz­ardous dust waste is by using negative pressure local exhaust ventilation and filtering equipment,such as hoods or fully enclosed grinding stations connected to bag houses, filters, cyclones, or elec­trostatic precipitators.

You are liable for the cost to clean up environ­mental contamination caused by the hazardous waste that your business generates. Please note that it is also unlawful to pay your employees with haz­ardous dust waste that contains precious metals.

If you want to treat any hazardous waste that you generate, or if you want to recover precious metals from your hazardous dust waste, you must obtain a grant of authorization or permit for onsite5 hazardous waste treatment. You can contact your local Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) for assistance, or DTSC at (800)728-­6942 if there is no CUPA in your area.

Can I send my hazardous dust waste to a company that recovers precious metals from the dust?

Yes. However, it can only be sent offsite6 to a facility that is permitted to recover precious metals from hazardous waste. It is unlawful to use the United States Postal Service, or any common parcel carrier, or anyone other than a DTSC­ registered trans­porter to transport your hazardous waste offsite. For information regarding transport requirements, please see the DTSC fact sheet on “Hazardous Waste Generator Requirements for Jewelry Mart Operators.”

Can I reduce my costs by recovering my hazardous dust waste?

Yes. As noted above,you must collect and con­tain the hazardous dust waste generated in your jew­elry manufacturing operations. There are special fil­tration systems and floor mats designed to capture hazardous dust waste. If you trap your hazardous dust waste, you can protect yourself and your work­ers from exposure to the dust, and avoid fines and penalties. You will also be able to send more valu­able waste dust to a permitted facility to have the precious metals recovered. The DTSC Office of Pollution Prevention and Technology Development (OPPTD) can help you reduce the loss of dust that contains precious metals. You can contact OPPTD at (800) 700-5854. For more information, please see the DTSC Fact Sheet “Jewelry Manufacturing Industry Pollution Prevention Recommendations.”


1“Fine powder” is a metal in dry, solid form having a particle size smaller than 100 micrometers (0.004 inches) in diameter. (Cal. Code of Regs., tit. 22, § 66260.10.)

2Cal.Code Regs.,tit.22, div. 4.5, ch.11.

3Health & Saf.Code,div.20,ch. 6.5, and Cal.Code Regs.,tit. 22,div. 4.5.

4“Treatment” is any method, technique, or process designed to change the physical, chemical, or biological character or composition of any hazardous waste or any material contained therein, or removes or reduces its harmful properties or characteristics for any purpose, including, but not limited to, energy recovery, material recovery, or reduction in volume. (Health & Saf. Code, § 25123.5 and Cal. Code Regs., tit. 22, § 66260.10.)

5The term “onsite facility” is summarized for purposes of this fact sheet of mean a hazardous waste facility at which hazardous waste  is generated, and which is owned by, leased to, or under the control of generator of the waste. (Health and Saf. Code, §25117.12 and Cal. Code Regs., tit.22, § 66260.10.)

6An “offsite facility” means a hazardous waste facility that is not an onsite facility. (Health & Saf. Code, § 25117.11 and Cal. Code Regs., tit. 22, § 66260.10.)

More Information & Contacts

For more information and questions, please direct them to our Regulatory Assistance Officers using the information below. If calling from outside California, please call the “Outside CA” telephone number provided:

Toll-Free in CA: 800-728-6942 or 800 72-TOXIC
Outside CA: 916-324-2439

For assistance or additional information, please contact the DTSC Office nearest you. For a list of all offices, go to our Office Address and Phone Numbers web page.


This fact sheet does not replace or supersede relevant statutes and regulations. The information contained in this fact sheet is based upon the statutes and regulations in effect as of the date of the fact sheet. Interested parties should keep apprised of subsequent changes to relevant statutes and regulations.