There has been increased scrutiny of the generation of hazardous waste in the retail industry – especially in the pharmacy area of stores. The importance of correctly managing the disposal of pharmaceuticals has become a critical issue. There is a category of waste that describes chemicals and constituents that are harmful to the environment – and these materials are classified as hazardous wastes under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). A number of drugs and pharmaceutical formulations meet the definition of hazardous waste when discarded – and in some cases the empty containers that these pharmaceuticals came in may also need to be managed as hazardous waste.
What exactly does the word hazardous mean? It is used quite often in the regulatory world as a descriptor of another significant word. The word “hazardous” is an adjective, meaning full of risk; perilous; risky.
If you live in the Northern US, I am sure that you know what hazardous driving conditions signify. If you are a golfer, I am positive that you recognize the word “hazards” when on the course. So, you can easily see what using the term hazard or hazardous connotes.
We need to make certain that the regulatory definitions using the key word hazardous are understood – and that we use the terms correctly. Let’s look at the use of the word hazardous in the regulations.
In Part 1 of Hazardous Waste in Healthcare, we defined hazardous wastes. In Part 2, we will discuss identifying hazardous waste in your facility, as well as proper containment, transport, treatment, recordkeeping, and training.
Hazardous Waste Determination
One of the biggest challenges for today’s healthcare workers is defining the different categories of waste streams they manage on a daily basis. Even the names can be confusing. There’s hazardous, biohazardous, RCRA, universal, pharmaceutical, regulated medical, red bag, pathological, chemo, infectious, isolation, and the list goes on. Perhaps the most confusing and dangerous wastes facilities deal with is hazardous waste. Hazardous waste in healthcare is much more complicated than biohazardous waste and more often than not, improperly recognized and categorized by healthcare professionals. So, what is hazardous waste?
Continue reading “Hazardous Waste in Healthcare, Part 1: DEFINING HAZARDOUS WASTE”
Eventually those long fluorescent light bulbs that have been flickering in the ceiling for months will burn out, and when they do, don’t throw them into the dumpster or dispose of them as hazardous waste. Instead, recycle them as Universal Waste. Fluorescent bulbs, including compact florescent lamps (CFLs) or u-shaped lamps and other high intensity discharge (HID) lamps, contain the hazardous material mercury and thus are regulated by the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) under the Universal Waste Rule. The EPA created the Universal Waste Rule for certain wastes that are generated in a wide variety of settings including homes and businesses, and are able to have their hazardous components removed for the purpose of recycling. The Universal Waste Rule encourages proper disposal and limits the burdens of storage, handling, treatment, and recordkeeping associated with other types of hazardous waste.