EPA Fails To Act On Pharmaceutical Waste | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 90 Issue 23 | p. 23 | Concentrates
Issue Date: June 4, 2012

EPA Fails To Act On Pharmaceutical Waste

Department: Government & Policy
News Channels: Environmental SCENE
Keywords: pharmaceuticals, hazardous waste, EPA

Although federal occupational safety organizations have identified more than 100 pharmaceuticals as hazardous, EPA has failed to determine whether the drugs should be regulated as hazardous waste, a report from the agency’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) concludes. The report identifies eight chemicals—including cisplatin and oxytocin—found in pharmaceuticals that would qualify for regulation as hazardous waste, but EPA does not regulate any of them as such. As a result, dangerous pharmaceuticals may have been unsafely disposed of and released into the environment, the report states. EPA proposed a rule to address pharmaceutical wastes in 2008; however, the agency abandoned the proposal after receiving a large number of negative comments. EPA has authority to regulate hazardous waste pharmaceuticals under the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act, but it has not updated the list of pharmaceuticals that qualify as hazardous waste since 1980. In response to the OIG report, EPA states that it is currently working to release a revised proposal by spring 2013 for regulating hazardous waste pharmaceuticals from health care facilities.

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