Get Ready for New Regulations for Handling Hazardous Waste

You may see changes to your institution's med disposal policies.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tightening regulations to reduce hazardous WASTE in our water. This includes meds that are corrosive, ignitable, reactive, or toxic.

This is NOT the same as USP Chapter <800>...which focuses on reducing hazardous MED exposure in healthcare settings.

Prepare to get into compliance with EPA's new regs.

Brush up on meds considered RCRA hazardous waste in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act...such as cyclophosphamide, lindane, physostigmine, and warfarin.

Some of these are also on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) hazardous med list...if they're linked to cancer, pregnancy loss, or other problems. Still follow EPA's disposal rules.

Dispose of RCRA-hazardous waste properly...usually in black bins. In fact, you might hear these meds called "black-bin meds."

Don't flush RCRA-hazardous waste down the sink or toilet. Some states have laws that prohibit this "sewering" of meds...and federal law will now prohibit it for RCRA-hazardous waste.

Dispose of empty containers of RCRA-hazardous waste as you'd dispose of empty containers of meds that aren't RCRA-hazardous waste. Don't triple'll no longer be allowed or required, since it's another way meds get into the water.

For example, place empty cyclophosphamide vials in yellow chemo bins...and warfarin tab wrappers in regular trash.

Stay alert for meds being removed from the RCRA-hazardous waste list...such as nicotine gums, lozenges, and patches. These won't require black-bin disposal because the nicotine concentration is low.

But continue to dispose of nicotine inhalers and nicotine nasal sprays in black bins. They're still considered RCRA-hazardous waste...the nicotine is more concentrated and in a liquid form.

Expect your hospital to require training on RCRA-hazardous waste disposal. It's mandated by the new EPA law.

Be aware that changes to the federal regs will go into effect as early as August 21, 2019...depending on the state you practice in.

Delve into our updated technician tutorial, Medication Disposal in the Hospital, for more on the new regs.

Key References

  • (06-21-19)
  • (06-21-19)
  • (06-21-19)
Hospital Pharmacy Technician's Letter. July 2019, No. 350724

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