Avoiding Water Waste (The solid waste solution)

Avoiding Water Waste

The northeast recycling council Inc. NERC a none governmental organization dealing with waste management was awarded a grant by the US environmental protection agency to develop environmental friendly and legal strategies for collecting and disposing unused medical waste.


The need for such measures is brought about by evidence showing over the counter and prescription medicine found their way to water supplies. Even though excretion is the primary source of pollution, disposal of unused medication as also added to the problem.

The project sought to ensure the unwanted medication is collected and disposed off in an environmentally friendly and legal ways. It should also ensure the drugs are out of reach of unauthorized persons known as diversion

II Background

A number of studies including a national reconnaissance streams carried out by the US geological survey in 1999-2000 looked for traces of pharmaceutical products in water. 80% of streams sampled were found to be contaminated. Another research conducted by the Research Institute for health and environment also found there were up to nine different medications present in water sampled from twenty treatment points. Studies also show a similarity between human medication and the phenomenon of male fish producing eggs. Findings showed the male fish are affected by medication present in water that tends to change their male characters and replace them with female characters. This is due to the presence of estrogen hormone present in some medication tat find their way into the fish environment.

The solid waste solution

Previously there was a recommendation to flush out the unwanted medication. Today that should not be the case. Well published and clear instruction on disposal should be established. NERC with the assistance of the legal committee spent two years researching on proper disposal of unwanted medical waste and came up with recommendations and held 8 pilot collections.

This document show the experience gained from the implementation of the pilot collections. The recommendations have the full backing of federal legal requirements but the states have to look at individual requirements before implementation. Federal agencies responsible for safe medical waste disposal include UNITED STATES DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION and the United State Department of health and human services. The guidance in the document is organized as follows

  • What to expect at a collection
  • The law
  • Federal
  • State
  • Legal strategy for collecting medication
  • Holding a collection
  • Case study

What to expect at collection

All the none controlled medications

In a nutshell, it is common knowledge that medical waste is a common pollutant of the water sources, especially in the ocean. However, adopting proper waste disposal mechanisms can go a long way in preserving the oceans, thousands if fish species and other ocean life have been victims of the increased ocean pollution, and when this waste comes from chemicals used in production of medicine, then some of the consequences are deadly. Proper waste disposal should be common knowledge bit this does not appear to be the case. The increased deaths of ocean life and the increased resistance to diseases due to overconsumption of medicine can bear witness to this trend.