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Medical Waste, Hazardous Waste and Pharmaceutical Waste

Not All Wastes Are Created Equal. Know The Differences Between Medical, Hazardous, And Pharmaceutical Wastes.

The U.S. is responsible for producing a hopping 220 million tons of waste a year.  Because of this, both the government and environmental associations have developed numerous methods of dealing with the problem through waste management.  Waste management is a rather complex issue that encompasses several industries, and the type of waste determines how and when it should be disposed of, and in what manner. Here are the key differences.

Hazardous Waste

Hazardous waste is a rather broad category, but is defined as any type of waste that poses either a substantial or potential threat to public health and the environment.  This includes explosive waste, flammable liquids and solids, waste that is poisonous and toxic, and of course, waste that is infectious.

Once a material is deemed no longer useful and is ready for disposal, it is necessary to consider whether it can be safely and legally put in a dumpster for land filling, poured down the drain, or set aside as a hazardous waste for special disposal.  You should always refer to local and federal laws to see how to dispose of hazardous waste.

Medical Waste

Technically speaking, medical waste is hazardous waste.  There are many terms used to identify medical waste, including infectious waste, biological waste, medical waste, hospital waste, medical hazardous waste, microbiological waste, pathological waste, and red bag waste.  Medical waste comes in several forms, including solid and liquid.  Solid waste includes culture media, personal protective equipment that has been contaminated, and other materials, like sharps, pipette tips, glassware and more.  Liquid waste includes blood, blood products, and bodily fluids.  The Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate biohazardous waste management under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.  Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the primary authority for regulating workplace standards and employee health and safety.

Pharmaceutical Waste

Like medical waste, pharmaceutical waste can also be considered hazardous waste.  Unused pharmaceuticals are a hazard for abuse and are a threat to the environment if disposed of improperly.  Reliable and concrete statistics are hard to come by, but it’s a safe assumption that we, as consumers, are responsible for a hefty percentage of the pharmaceutical and personal care products that wind up in lakes, rivers, and streams.  In a typical U.S. household, the medicine cabinet is full of unused and expired drugs, only a fraction of which get disposed of appropriately.

While the FDA has and still recommends flushing certain medications, the best course of action is to research a take-back program. Law enforcement, public health, and environmental professionals feel that these programs are the safest and most responsible way to dispose of unwanted and expired medicines to protect your family and to protect our waters.

Knowing and understanding the different types of waste will help mitigate environmental risks as well as keep you in compliance.  Don’t takes guesses about the waste you produce. Know where to find the resources and technical assistance to help health care facilities comply with the law and protect the environment.

7 Things You Need To Know About Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal

Everyone knows that pharmaceutical waste when disposed of poorly, can have catastrophic effect on the environment and also on the life quality of people. Thus the EPA has been handing out such huge fines ( as high as $10,000 to $25,000 per violation a day, besides  to jail them) to facilities and corporations that do not manage to follow the disposal guidelines established by the law. The following things you have to know in order to avoid risking either the environment or  your own company.

Label your hazardous waste properly

Be convinced  that all of the pharmaceutical waste created by your company islabeled as hazardous, in such a way that the label is seen from wherever the container is viewed from.

For doing this, you need to determine the classification of dangerous waste. Characteristic or D-List waste has one of the following characteristics: reactivity, toxicity, ignitability or corrosively. Toxic or U-List waste contains most chemotherapy drugs. Acutely hazardous or P-List waste is the most hazardous.

Treat your P-List waste appropriately

P-List waste must be treated with all the respect it deserves, given how highly toxic it is. It must  be collected separately in case if it is  mixed with other materials, all of that waste is automatically considered  to be P-List,too. On the day  the waste container enters the storage area has to be visibly labeled. Companies also are obliged  to prove how much P-List waste they send  every month to an inspector.

Conduct weekly inspections of

An inspection needs to be held every week of all hazardous waste containers so as  to ensure that the  contents have not been compromised.

Don’t treat  biohazardous & pharmaceutical waste the same way

Biohazardous waste must be  sterilizedin order to abolish  the risk of infection and then disposed of in a landfill. Pharmaceutical waste cannot be disposed of in the same way, because it will disappear seeping into the water supply or surface water from a landfill. This kind of waste must  be detached and incinerated instead.

Never ever dump hazardous waste into the sewer

In case of violation of  this rule by anyone  with receiving  a citation from the EPA, and if the act was done deliberately, it could translate into jail time.

Train your employees well

It is important to train employees who deal  with pharmaceutical waste on proper disposal technique. All employees need to understand disposal and transportation methods. Employees who have  waste responsibilities related to their function, like nurses, physicians or lab technicians need to be given training  corresponding  to their duties. All training sessions must be completely documented.

Be prepared for emergencies

In case of emergency situations such as a chemical spill, it is important  that all the facilities within the building have a comprehensive emergency response plan to contain the immediate danger.

Glycon Medical Waste offers full service waste management specifically planned to serve the California Healthcare Industry. All waste generators whether large or small, are able to take part in waste management programs provided by Glycon Medical Waste. Services provided by Glycon Medical Waste are adjusted to bring specially-made waste disposal services to facilities providing the highest level of customer service and regulatory compliance.
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