EPA Science Inventory

Comment on "Life cycle comparison of environmental emissions from three disposal options for unused pharmaceuticals"

Citation:

Daughton, C. Comment on "Life cycle comparison of environmental emissions from three disposal options for unused pharmaceuticals". ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY. American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 46(14):8519-8520, (2012).

Description:

The disposal of unwanted, leftover medications is a topic of national concern. This product is a commentary on a paper in Environmental Science & Technology (doi:10.1021/es203987b) that makes an imprudent, hazardous recommendation regarding the disposal of unwanted drugs to domestic trash as opposed to disposal by flushing to sewers or return of leftover drugs by consumers to collection events (take-backs). The commentary also highlights several technical errors made in the published paper.

Purpose/Objective:

n their article on the life-cycle assessment (LCA) of disposal options for unwanted medications, Cook et al.1 do not account for acute hazards posed to public health and safety. Their recommendation ("... we recommend trash disposal for unused pharmaceuticals") results from an oversimplified LCA that considers only environmental emissions. Also needing attention is the critical concern for preventing accidental poisonings, diversion, and abuse. The US EPA and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) continue to recommend that consumers follow the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) guidelines for disposal, as modified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).2 These can be summarized as: (1) for a limited number of drugs specified by the FDA, flush to sewers, (2) use drug take-back programs (supervised collection events) when available, and (3) use trash disposal when take-back programs are not available.

URLs/Downloads:

http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1021/es301975v   Exit

DAUGHTON_ORD-000819_FINAL JOURNAL ARTICLE..PDF   (PDF,NA pp, 23.324 KB,  about PDF)

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Start Date: 08/07/2012
Completion Date: 08/07/2012
Record Last Revised: 10/09/2012
Record Created: 08/07/2012
Record Released: 08/07/2012
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 245412

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL EXPOSURE RESEARCH LAB

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES DIVISION

ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY BRANCH