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  • Heather Cummings

The EPA’s Pharmaceutical Disposal Position

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

In early September the EPA released a draft for Best Management Practices for Unused Pharmaceuticals at Health Care Facilities. The comment period on the draft ended in early November and generated a lot of buzz. While the EPA believes this document will help reduce the contamination of water through pharmaceutical pollution, some organizations believe the position in too weak.

The document explains that while the source of pharmaceutical pollution is not health care facilities aloe, their studies show that unused pharmaceutical disposal practices at health care facilities are less than stellar. The study found that potentially large amounts of pharmaceuticals are being flushed or disposed of down the drain, and ending up in rivers, streams and costal waters. According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) approximately 50 million Americans currently have drinking water contaminated with chemicals from pharmaceuticals.

PEER explained that the voluntary guidance set out by the EPA is not enough, and that in some ways it may be counterproductive.

EPA is taking one timid step forward and two backward in addressing pharmaceutical pollution,” said PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein. “With each passing month, the public health and environmental risks deepen, yet EPA has yet to come up with a coherent strategy.”

Follow these links to learn more about the EPA draft and PEER’s position.

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