EPA Rule Will Affect Long-Term Care

Last updated on October 30, 2019

In our last blog post, we discussed the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Proposed Rule on the Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals (HWP) This week’s post will examine how this regulation may affect long-term care facilities.

The EPA proposed the new rule this past September, regarding management of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals. One of the provisions in the rule is that Long-Term Care Facilities (LTCF) will no longer be subject to the RCRA household hazardous waste (HHW) exclusion. Under current federal RCRA interpretation (see 73 FR 73525, December 2, 2008), hazardous wastes (including pharmaceuticals) generated on the premises of a long-term care facility can fall under two categories:

(1) RCRA Subtitle C hazardous waste or

(2)  Household hazardous waste that is exempt from RCRA Subtitle C regulation.

The Agency is now providing notice that it intends to revise this interpretation.  Specifically, hazardous waste (including pharmaceuticals) generated at long-term care facilities will no longer be considered exempt as household hazardous waste. It will be regulated as hazardous waste, subject to the appropriate RCRA Subtitle C management standards.

EPA now believes that hazardous waste generated at long-term care facilities, even when those pharmaceuticals are under the control of the patient or resident, does not meet the criterion for the household hazardous waste exemption.  These LTCFs would still be considered Conditionally Exempt Small Quantity Generators, provided that they meet the CESQG requirements.

CESQGs are subject to a limited set of federal RCRA Subtitle C hazardous waste regulations, provided that they comply with the conditions set forth in § 261.5.  This proposed rulemaking will preserve this current regulatory structure for the most part; therefore, healthcare facilities that generate hazardous waste pharmaceuticals and qualify as CESQGs, will maintain their conditional exemption under § 261.5 and will not be subject to most aspects of this proposal.

However, as part of this rulemaking, EPA is proposing a ban on sewer disposal of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals by all healthcare facilities and reverse distributors. EPA is proposing that the sewer ban would apply to all healthcare facilities, including CESQG healthcare facilities.

Sharps Compliance offers solutions for the safe and compliant management of LTCF pharmaceuticals, including HWP, DEA Controlled Substances, and other non-regulated pharmaceuticals.  We invite you to visit our website, or call us so that we can offer our expert consultation to provide your LTCF with the proper “prescribed” solution.

Joe Jordan has a Bachelors of Arts degree in Chemistry from Washington and Jefferson College. He is certified in RCRA and DOT as well as 40 Hour HAZWOPER certified. Joe has been in the hazardous waste industry since 1990 and has managed industrial, healthcare, retail, and governmental clients, both large and small.

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