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RE: E-M:/ pharmaceuticals in the environment

Enviro-Mich message from "Alexander J. Sagady" <ajs@sagady.com>

At 02:22 PM 06/01/2005, Rita Jack wrote:
>Enviro-Mich message from "Rita Jack" <rita.jack@sierraclub.org>
>And that's exactly the realm where it needs to be addressed - the
>legislature.  I was given a prescription 2 years ago that I chose not to
>take.  I took the bottle of pills back to the pharmacy, and they told me
>that under the law, they're unable to accept back any drugs once they've
>been given to the patient.  I was told it is to avoid any possible chance of
>mixing up the various pills with others, to avoid giving the wrong
>prescription or pills to a patient.  I didn't want to flush the pills to get
>rid of them, and I didn't want to throw them into the trash to go into a
>landfill.  I finally took them to my physician, who agreed to throw them
>into their biologic hazard waste receptacle.  

This sounds like a real modern life's dilemna, doesn't it....?   I'm not sure
I would agree with disposal into the medical waste stream as being the 
least environmentally damaging solution.

If I had by druthers...for waste medicines...companies like 
Pharmacia & Upjohn would have to take them back and then 
incinerate them in a properly designed and operated incinerator for 
pharmaceutical waste.   This type of disposal would have a 
99.9%+ destruction and removal efficiency for this waste.

If you put waste medicines into the medical waste stream, and it was 
incinerated that would probably be a good solution.  However, much
medical waste is no longer incinerated.  Instead it is ground and steam
or microwave treated, and then landfilled.   This has the potential to 
increase the aqueous mobility of the medicines before they are 
put into the landfill.

If I couldn't be assured my waste medicine was incinerated in a properly 
designed and operated pharmaceutical waste, hazardous waste, medical waste
or industrial waste incinerator, I'd say that landfill disposal in a sealed 
container would be the next, least damaging to the environment method of 

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy, 
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Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
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