Pharmaceutical Disposal-What Should You Do with Expired and Unwanted Medications?

The Environmental Protection Agency in the USA encourages the general public to optimize the advantages of the pharmaceutical take-back home collection programs that accept over-the-counter and prescription drugs. These Programs ensure these unwanted medications are disposed of in a safe and environmentally-friendly manner. These Programs might be at a location like a retail pharmacy, clinic, hospital, or any local law enforcement agency. In order to locate any local law enforcement agency for the above cause, visit the website of the DEA.

Frequent questions about pharmaceutical disposal

When it comes to the subject of pharmaceutical disposal, the following are some frequent questions people ask:

  1. Can household medicines be collected inside a kiosk and burned in a crematorium?

The answer to this question is no, as according to the EPA, the human body is not considered to be solid waste. Hence, crematories, both for humans and animals, are not combustion units for solid waste. They are not under the regulations of the Clean Air Act and have no control devices for air pollution to reduce pollutants in the air like furans, mercury, and dioxins. This means that human and animal crematoriums will not offer sufficient environmental and public health protection when they burn household pharmaceuticals, and in case they are collected in a kiosk and burned in a crematorium, the crematorium will be subject to the regulations pertaining to waste incineration under the Clean Air Act in the USA.

  1. Can a burn barrel dispose of pharmaceutical medicines that law enforcement units have collected?

Here again, the answer to the above question is no. The RCRA Subtitle D Regulations prohibit the open burning of commercial, residential, industrial, and institutional solid waste. In addition to the above, in most instances, the local ordinances and the state laws stringently prohibit or limit the open burning of any household waste.

The emissions from open burning are not controlled, and if medicines are burned openly, this will pose a lot of health risks to the officers and other members of the nearby communities. Many air pollutants and toxic by-products are released into the atmosphere during the burning process. For instance, glass, plastic, cardboard packaging, and other multi-laminate films emit dangerous pollutants like lead, mercury, sulfur dioxide, furans, and others to cause long-term health effects that are adverse in nature to people and animals.

Barrels that have fans pose the same risks from dangerous emissions as they have a temperature for low combustion and face problems when it comes to their control. They will not attain the non-retrievable standards that the DEA has laid down for destroying controlled substances in a memorandum created on the 11th of September, 2011.

Businesses, hospitals, and pharmacies

Take-back programs are unavailable to pharmacies, hospitals, and other businesses producing pharmaceutical waste. They need to partner with credible pharmaceutical disposal companies that take care of the above as per the laws and regulations of the state.

These medical waste disposal companies have the license and training to ensure this waste is disposed of safely without affecting public health or the environment!

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