Environmental Protection

Agency Seeks Comment on Pharmaceutical Waste Rule

To help provide a streamlined system for disposing of hazardous pharmaceutical waste that is protective of public health and the environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to add hazardous pharmaceutical waste to the Universal Waste Rule.

The proposed rule encourages generators to dispose of pharmaceutical waste that is classified as non-hazardous under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act as universal waste. The proposal will also facilitate the collection of personal medications that are classified as household hazardous waste so they can be managed properly.

The proposed rule applies to pharmacies, hospitals, physicians' offices, dentists' offices, outpatient care centers, ambulatory health care services, residential care facilities, and veterinary clinics, as well as other facilities that generate hazardous pharmaceutical waste. It does not apply to pharmaceutical manufacturing or production facilities.

Currently the federal Universal Waste Rule includes batteries, pesticides, mercury-containing equipment, and lamps. Universal wastes typically are generated in a wide variety of settings including industrial settings and households, by many sectors of society, and may be present in significant volumes in non-hazardous waste management systems.

Comments will be accepted for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register, which was expected by Dec. 8.

For information on the proposed rule, visit http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/hazard/wastetypes/universal/pharm.htm.

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