Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Chapter 173-303

We are proposing updates to Chapter 173-303 WAC, Dangerous Waste Regulations. Find answers to frequently asked questions about this rulemaking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the pharmaceutical rule cover household or over-the-counter drugs? 

No. This rule applies to retail stores, pharmacies, and healthcare facilities (such as clinics, long-term care centers, and hospitals) and their dangerous waste drugs. It doesn’t apply to households.

What changes are being considered for nicotine waste regulations?  

Concentrated nicotine is very toxic and highly regulated by EPA in the hazardous waste regulations. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved over-the-counter (OTC) nicotine replacement therapies, including nicotine-containing patches, gums, and lozenges, contain low concentrations of nicotine. Recently EPA updated the P075 acutely hazardous waste listing to exclude these products from the listing description. Other unused formulations of nicotine, such as e-cigarette liquids and legacy nicotine-containing pesticides, are still considered P075 acutely hazardous waste when discarded..

As part of this rulemaking, Ecology is considering amending chapter 173-303 WAC to make the state rules consistent with the EPA change for P075.  This change would mean that the OTC nicotine replacement therapies would no longer be managed as an acute hazardous waste.  Instead facilities would need to evaluate these products for state dangerous waste toxicity criteria and identify any other requirements that apply. We believe that the state dangerous requirements would still provide environmental protection in how OTC nicotine waste is managed while saving money and reducing the regulatory burden for facilities.

Learn more at EPA’s Frequent Questions about the Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals and Amendment to the P075 Listing for Nicotine Final Rule.

What is the purpose of the Biological Testing Methods publication? Why does the fish bioassay method need updating?

The publication Biological Testing Methods for the Designation of Dangerous Waste includes two separate test procedures used to determine if a waste meets the definition of a state dangerous waste. Part A is the static acute fish toxicity test. Laboratories use a sample of solid waste to determine if it kills fish at a certain concentration, causing the waste to designate as a dangerous waste.

The fish toxicity test has been in use for over 40 years in Washington State, designed solely for the purpose of determining whether solid waste is a state dangerous waste based on toxicity. It does not include fish tissue testing and does not relate to human health criteria. The method measures mortality of juvenile salmon exposed to a waste mixture. The update to the test method changes test procedures to be more efficient for labs to use.

Part B includes the acute oral rat toxicity test. This is an obsolete test which will be removed from the publication.

Why do we need rules for recalled airbag waste? What makes them dangerous waste?

Airbags removed from vehicles are a dangerous waste because they are ignitable and reactive. They can explode and injure people. This rule will make removing and collecting airbag waste safer.

The state rule will provide clear direction to auto dealers, scrap recyclers, and small businesses on proper disposal. Airbag waste collected by auto dealers, salvage yards, and auto repair shops will be exempt from dangerous waste requirements as long as certain conditions are met. Airbag waste can be sent to either an airbag waste collection facility or to a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) permitted dangerous waste facility.

Reusing or recycling recalled airbags is prohibited.