Because pharmaceutical and medical waste includes unused medications and supplies such as test strips, contaminated clothing, and, occasionally body parts, handling it requires not only a high order of technical skill but visible ethics.
Some drugs include metals, endocrine disruptors, and various compounds that are dangerous for humans, animals, and the environment. There is also a risk that inadequately managed pharmaceutical waste could end up in the hands of people who misuse the chemicals.
In addition, pharmaceutical waste is not a single waste stream, but many distinctive ones that can affect the integrity and uniformity of the chemicals from which pharmaceutical are made and negatively impact the environment. These waste streams are generated through a wide range of activities, some pro-active, such as IV preparation and general compoundings, and some accidental, such as breakages. And then there is waste that arises from partially used ampoules, used needles, fallow unit doses, and outdated pharmaceuticals.
The major waste streams include:
- Biomedical waste – any solid or liquid waste that is created through the diagnosis or treatment of humans or animals in research facilities or in the production or testing of biological substances. It includes cultures, tissues, dressings, swabs, and waste holding pathogens from isolation wards.