Manufacture of pharmaceuticals as their waste is segregated with specialized treatments for hazardous wastes

Background:
In 2002, a study was conducted on 139 streams in 30 states to look for micro-contaminants in waters that are used as sources of drinking water in the United States. In 80% of these streams, pharmaceutical active substances were identified, along with components used in personal care products (cosmetics) (Koplin et al.. 2002). Further studies found that many of these chemical substance passed through municipal wastewater treatment plants without being degraded or removed. The result is that these compounds are being discharged into streams, and it is alleged that these compounds are responsible for exerting adverse effects on wildlife, including the feminization of male fish and inducing sluggish activity levels in fish; three legged amphibians have also been observed (Koplin et al., 2002).
With a focus on the residual pharmaceuticals in the environment (PIE), it is clear that these are a direct result of human excretion and direct disposal of medicines into the environment. In 2005, the State of Washington averaged 8.5 prescriptions per capita with a total of 53 million being filled by retail outlets (Koplin et al., 2002). This does not include institutional medicines prescribed in hospitals and nursing homes.
The PIE issue has nothing to do with the manufacture of pharmaceuticals as their waste is segregated with specialized treatments for hazardous wastes and for non-hazardous wastes. Hazardous wastes will mostly go to thermal oxidizers for destruction. Non-hazardous waste is regulated by pretreatment categorical standards and by wastewater discharge permits, holding the manufacturing facility to strict performance standards.

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