EPA asks for comment on upcoming survey on unused pharmaceutical disposal

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The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking comment on a survey it plans to conduct on disposal methods of unused pharmaceuticals by the health care industry.

The EPA in an Aug. 12 Federal Register notice announced the draft survey and other supporting documents, which can be found on the agency's Web site, www.epa.gov/guide/304m/ or from the federal online docket www.regulations.gov/. Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2008-0517. There is a questionnaire pertaining to veterinary hospitals.

The EPA is asking stakeholders to comment on specific aspects of the upcoming survey and its scope. The information compiled from the completed survey will be used in a detailed study on how veterinary hospitals, human hospitals, long-term care facilities, and hospices dispose of their unused pharmaceuticals. All of them will be surveyed.

The EPA is in the process of distinguishing between veterinary hospitals and other veterinary facilities such as offices. As a result, the agency is seeking feedback on whether to include veterinary offices, medical and dental offices, university clinics, and prison clinics.

The purpose of the study will be to inform future regulatory actions, and identify the best management and proper disposal practices. For many years, this involved flushing products down the toilet or drain.

The study will be one of several actions the agency is taking to strengthen its understanding of disposal practices and potential risks from pharmaceuticals in water. Essentially, it is part of the EPA's overall strategy to address the risks associated with emerging contaminants, which can be viewed at www.epa.gov/ost/ppcp.

The agency also will conduct a series of meetings in September to solicit early feedback from stakeholders on the draft survey. The date and time of the meetings, which will have conferencing capability, will be announced in coming weeks.

Comments on the draft survey must be submitted to the EPA on or before Nov. 10.

To enter comments, data, or information for the "Study of Unused Pharmaceuticals from Medical and Veterinary Facilities," go to www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for submitting comments or e-mail OW-Docketatepa [dot] gov (OW-Docket[at]epa[dot]gov), Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2008-0517.

Comments also may be sent to Water Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, mailcode: 4203M, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20460.

The AVMA also comments on regulatory proposals on behalf of the profession and will analyze and comment on this proposal.

For more information about the draft form and the forthcoming survey, contact Carey Johnston at Johnston [dot] Careyatepa [dot] gov (Johnston.Carey@epa.gov) or Jan Goodwin at Goodwin [dot] Janetatepa [dot] gov (Goodwin[dot]Janet[at]epa[dot]gov).