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Science and Innovations

EPA Proposes to Ban Drain Disposal of Pharmaceutical Waste

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
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A proposed federal regulation would limit the pharmaceutical chemicals reaching the nation’s waterways.

The rule will affect hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and long-term care centers. They’ll be banned from flushing pharmaceuticals classified as hazardous waste down the drain. That includes chemotherapy drugs, blood thinners, nicotine and certain nutritional supplements. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that health care facilities commonly flush unused drugs. Trace amounts of pharmaceuticals have been found in many U.S. waterways.

The agency will accept public comment before finalizing the rule. The regulation will not apply to individuals. Public health officials ask that prescription users return unwanted medications to authorized collectors when possible.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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