Pharmaceuticals in the Drinking Water

 Regulatory Compliance and Social Responsibility

By Bob Shuman, National Healthcare Director

Many hospital organizations today are struggling internally with the dilemma of meeting the regulatory standards for the management, collection and disposal of pharmaceutical waste. This predicament is further complicated with both the uncertainty of the direction E.P.A. is headed with its adoption of its proposed universal waste rule, as well as the harsh reality that many pharmaceuticals developed post-RCRA are far more dangerous to human beings, wildlife and the environment than those currently regulated (and enforced).

Given the latter issue related to those post-RCRA pharmaceuticals, the conundrum arises as to "how much" of the pharmaceutical band-width a hospital should be prepared to collect to achieve both compliance with applicable regulations, and, to also adopt the "socially responsible" position that promotes the preservation of our waterways and drinking water.

To be sure, hospitals are faced with the quandary of where they each feel they should place themselves along the pharmaceutical collection continuum. This decision is not a simple one; it brings to bear questions related to cost, training, time and resource allocation, to name just a few considerations.

In the end, there is no "one" best solution; however, each hospital must take the plunge into the water soon, no matter how cold it may be, at first.