Tennessee Solid Waste Education Project

Resources on Pharmaceutical Waste

Pharmaceutical waste is defined as waste containing pharmaceutical substances. Examples include expired, unused, spilt, and contaminated pharmaceutical products, drugs, vaccines, and sera that are no longer required. Also included are discarded items used in the handling of pharmaceuticals, such as bottles or boxes with residues, gloves, masks, connecting tubing, and drug vials.

The links below provide information on pharmaceutical waste and its disposal.

What’s in your Water? An Overview of the Dangers of Pharmaceutical Waste – This lesson plan (a PDF file), designed by TNSWEP staff for high school students, will familiarize students with the importance of community awareness, education, and action regarding the dangers of pharmaceutical waste and the impact of improper disposal practices on our environment and on our health.

Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) – The US EPA answers frequently asked questions about the nature of PPCPs, including questions about their effect on ecological and human health and how to properly dispose of them.

Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, and Other Organic Wastewater Contaminants in U.S. Streams – The Toxic Substances Hydrology Program of the US Geological Survey performed the first national-scale examination of the presence of organic wastewater contaminants – including pharmaceuticals – in the United States water supply in 2002.

AP: Drugs found in drinking water – This article from USA Today discusses studies that have focused on the contamination of drinking water in the United States by pharmaceutical waste. It considers the potential health and environmental threats posed by this kind of contamination.

Reducing Pharmaceutical Waste March 2006 – This article from the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists discusses, among other things, the threats posed to the environment by pharmaceutical waste.

Dispose My Meds - Helps consumers find local pharmacies where they can safely dispose of their pharmaceutical waste to prevent drug abuse and to protect the environment.

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These links may assist you in developing teaching activities for your classroom.