The Associated Press reports that every year millions of pounds of pharmaceutical waste from long term care facilities are disposed of incorrectly and can end up in drinking water. These diluted chemicals can harm fish, frogs and other wildlife. That’s why it’s important that water that affects over 46 million Americans is protected and pharmaceutical waste is disposed of properly.

As various areas work in conjunction with state and local officials to test and find the source of these contaminants to analyze drinking water from various regions, guidelines have been set up through OSHA, the EPA, the Department of Health and Hospitals, as well as the Department of Environmental Quality.

Proper disposal of pharmaceutical waste can help to ensure that medications are disposed of correctly and that all staff are trained to understand how to dispose of pharmaceutical waste. These steps include:

Proper Disposal of Pharmaceutical Waste

1) Controlled Substances: All controlled substances have to be shipped based on DEA regulations back to the appropriate facility as they have specific guidelines for controlled substances. Examples: Morphine, Lorazepam, and Codeine

2) Hazardous P-Listed and U-Listed Waste: Based on EPA Guidelines, P-listed and U-Listed waste can pose a threat to the environment and may contaminate drinking water. P-listed should be labeled clearly in separate hazardous waste bags and documented as hazardous substances. With weight requirements, when 2.2 lbs or more is accrued, these can go into hazardous waste generators. U-Listed waste may need to be disposed of in large bulk amounts, as well as trace amounts. Examples: Nicotine, Warfarin and Epinephrine

3) Yellow (Trace) Containers and Black (Bulk) Containers: Trace items based on the EPA’s designation include empty chemo bags that may have less than 3% volume remaining in them. These are considered RCRA empty. Amounts greater than this are deemed regulated medical waste (RMW) and must go into the black containers. Disposal should be performed by your local hazardous waste company. Examples: Chemotherapy bags < 3% volume – Yellow, or >3% volume – Black

4) RCRA Hazardous Waste: The EPA in conjunction with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), work to ensure the proper disposal of hazardous waste. These items must be clearly labeled and placed into black containers or other hazardous waste containers that are clearly labeled. Examples: P-listed, U-listed and D-listed waste

5) Training Your Staff: It’s critical that all staff members understand the proper disposal techniques of pharmaceutical waste. If you’re unsure, consult your local waste facility, Allied Medical Waste, as they can offer the proper labeling, waste bags, and storage containers. They can also arrange for convenient pick-ups and answer any questions your staff might have, (858) 486-8200.  Allied Medical Waste

Whether you work in a long term facility, hospital, research lab, funeral home, dental or medical office, OSHA has strict guidelines about the proper disposal of waste materials. If you’re unsure, consult your local waste facility,

Allied Medical Waste

If your facility needs medical waste disposal, San Diego has the most reliable and informative service that’s convenient and fully compliant with all OSHA guidelines: Allied Medical Waste. They handle all types of medical waste disposal. Los Angeles and surrounding areas utilize their medical waste services. If you have any questions on medical waste services, if you would like to schedule a pick-up, or if you would like a free quote on setting up medical waste services in your area, please contact Allied Medical Waste. Call for your free consultation today!