Frequently asked questions about pharmaceutical waste
We recognize unique challenges when it comes to managing pharmaceutical waste. Facilities often work with multiple regulatory agencies to dispense, store, and dispose of pharmaceutical wastes. Below we answer your most common questions related to pharmaceutical wastes.
Regulated by local health departments or districts.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements are similar, but they do not replace or supersede the biomedical waste distinction or the dangerous waste designation.
State-only toxic wastes with the waste code of WT01.
How to find the weight of your dangerous waste pharmaceuticals
It is difficult to find the actual weight of dangerous waste pharmaceuticals.
You can choose one of the following options:
Do twice monthly weigh-ins and count the difference:
Weigh a waste container at the beginning of the month. Record the weight (A).
Weigh the container at the end of the month. Record the weight (B).
Subtract A from B.
This is the weight of the dangerous waste pharmaceuticals you generated over one month. NOTE: This will result in an overcount since the individual packaging weights are included.
Keep a log of each waste amount generated. This method results in a more accurate count since the packaging weight is not counted, but is more time intensive for staff to log:
Track the individual volume or weight of dangerous waste pharmaceuticals every time you add to your waste container. For example: If only half of a 1 mL prefilled syringe of epinephrine is administered, track 0.5 mL on your log when the whole syringe is added to your waste container.
Total these individual amounts at the end of the month.
This is your dangerous waste pharmaceutical count (in pounds) for the month. If you are tracking by volume, convert to pounds.
Correction and detention facilities that are managed by a law enforcement agency may qualify as a health care facility if the dangerous waste pharmaceuticals are used for the care of the clients or residents.