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Re: Household pharmaceutical wastes

Tough questions, Marlyn, and I don't pretend to know what the best answer is for
your specific locale.  As you know, it would be perfectly legal for a citizen to
dispose of excess/unused drugs either in their household garbage or down the
toilet.  I agree with Kelly Moran that our old recommendation of "flush it" was
not the least risky.  I usually give the same advice as she does for a first
option -- household hazardous waste collection events.  But I'm dubious how many
people will go to the trouble of doing this for a few pills.  As a second option
-- depending on the location of the caller-- I usually recommend disposal with
garbage.  At least in our relatively arid environment, I think the chances of
release of pharmaceutical ingredients from a well-managed landfill is
infinitesimal.  If we had landfills that were closer to ground water, or more
rainfall, though, I may have second thoughts about this recommendation too.

In your case, I know much of Honolulu's solid waste goes to fuel power
generation.  I have a suspicion that what we know about the combustion  and
incineration of pharmaceuticals is negligible, so I'm at a loss as to how to
compare its risk with the other alternatives.  I hope that others will chime in
with their views and knowledge.

Bill Wilson, EPA Region 9 Pollution Prevention Coordinator
75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco CA 94105
phone 415.744.2192 fax 415.744.1680 email wilson.bill@epa.gov

maguilar@eha.health.state.hi.us on 07/08/99 07:13:15 AM

Please respond to maguilar@eha.health.state.hi.us

To:   p2tech@great-lakes.net
Subject:  Household pharmaceutical wastes

Does anyone know of an alternative for households to dispose of old
prescription medications? Do pharmaceuticals take them or can they
go down the drain?  What about chemotherapy type drugs or certain
p-listed ones such as epinephrine (adrenalin) or nitroglycerine?

Any info would be appreciated.  Thanks in advance!!
Marlyn Aguilar
Waste Minimization Coordinator
Hawaii Deparment of Health
Solid and Hazardous Waste Branch
919 Ala Moana Blvd, Rm 212
Honolulu, HI 96814
Phone: (808) 586-4226
Fax: (808) 586-7509