Regulations concerning hazardous waste can often be cumbersome and difficult to understand. These regulations were created under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and are governed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Included in RCRA are regulations regarding pharmaceuticals. To help comb through these regulations, the EPA has created the Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals Wiki platform.
The platform can be viewed by anyone and was created “for healthcare professionals to share their expertise regarding whether pharmaceuticals are hazardous waste when discarded”. While it can be viewed by anyone, it can only be contributed to by healthcare professionals.
Members of the healthcare professional community can register to edit the site. The site will only discuss making hazardous waste determinations, and not regulations that apply to hazardous waste generators.
The site currently has information on P-Listed hazardous wastes, U-Listed hazardous wastes, and wastes that are hazardous due to their characteristics of ignitability, corrosivity, reactivity, and/or toxicity.
After reviewing the site, it seems it is still in the early stages. The various topics, including the lists of wastes, are not fully complete. The section of the site devoted to state specific information is extremely lacking. However, the purpose of the site is to allow healthcare professionals to add to the page and offer their experiences with hazardous waste determination as it relates to pharmaceuticals. It is expected that the site will become more comprehensive as more professionals offer their contributions.
Determining if a pharmaceutical waste is hazardous is one of the first steps in creating a full pharmaceutical waste program at a healthcare facility. Once this step is complete, the RCRA regulations include a number of provisions on the storage, treatment and disposal of these wastes. As with the hazardous waste determination portion of the regulations, these sections can also be difficult to comprehend.