Department of Environmental Quality Pharmaceutical Rule

Please click the below link to be taken to a webinar recorded by the department addressing the new rule as well as regulatory background information.

Hazardous Pharmaceutical Waste Webinar

Thanks to Lisa Ellis, Hazardous Waste Compliance Coordinator, for the link and related information!


Summary: Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals- Sewering Ban
Updated- August 28th, 2019

Effective August 23rd, 2019, Healthcare Facilities (this includes our hospitals and EMS agencies) can no longer place hazardous waste pharmaceuticals down the drain or flush into a sewer connected to a publicly-owned treatment works.

A hazardous waste pharmaceutical is any pharmaceutical that exhibits one or more symptoms of being hazardous or is listed specifically as a hazardous waste pharmaceutical.

A major difference found in this rule, that is only applicable for hazardous waste pharmaceuticals, is that there are no categories for inclusion into the rule. That is, whether it is a small amount or large amount, the rule still applies to the HWP.

Facilities can opt to treat all pharmaceutical waste as hazardous and alleviate the need to differentiate waste options based on individual pharmaceuticals.

Allowed co-mingling of waste products:
-Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals and Non-HWP may be wasted/placed/stored in the same container

Not Allowed co-mingling of waste products:
-Pharmaceutical waste and regulated medical waste may not be wasted/placed/stored in the same place. This disallows the practice of putting wasted pharmaceuticals into red biohazard bags or sharps containers.

Controlled Substances:
Must be Non-Retrievable by DEA definition.
Non-retrievable means, for the purpose of destruction, the condition or state to which a controlled substance shall be rendered following a process that permanently alters that controlled substance’s physical or chemical condition or state through irreversible means and thereby renders the controlled substance unavailable and unusable for all practical purposes. The process to achieve a non-retrievable condition or state may be unique to a substance’s chemical or physical properties. A controlled substance is considered “non-retrievable” when it cannot be transformed to a physical or chemical condition or state as a controlled substance or controlled substance analogue. The purpose of destruction is to render the controlled substance(s) to a non-retrievable state and thus prevent diversion of any such substance to illicit purposes.”

Per DEA and DEQ:
Methods Not Considered “non-retrievable”:
-Sharps containers
-Red biohazard bags
-Cannot be sewered
-Cannot be neutralized on site, must go to an RD or TSDF

Finally, there are a number of devices being purchased or used at facilities including, Cactus Sink, RxDestroyer, and Stericycle, that can be used at this time assuming that the contents are incinerated or combusted when full.

ODEMSA advises EMS providers that wasting should not be performed in red biohazard bags, sharps containers, or sewers. We recognize this is a change from previous direction but more information about the new law has become apparent. Wasting should be done in facility approved receptacles. Please follow receiving facility policy when wasting.

For any questions about the new rule, Please contact DEQ representatives for more info:

Lisa Ellis- lisa.ellis@deq.virginia.gov, 804-698-4237

Leslie Romanchik- leslie.romanchik@deq.virginia.gov, 804-698-4129

For questions about ODEMSA wasting policy please contact the office.

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