Environment: EPA extends comment period on new rule to cut pharmaceutical pollution

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Water pollution from waste pharmaceuticals is becoming ubiquitous, to the detriment of the environment. @bberwyn photo.

Watchdogs offer suggestions to beef up regulation

Staff Report

After years of studies showing how pharmaceutical wastes are polluting streams and lakes, the EPA has finally proposed a modest rule to start curbing the contaminants.

A proposed rule published in August would create new standards for  healthcare facilities (including pharmacies) and reverse distributors. According to the agency, the rule would prevent the flushing of more than 6,400 tons of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals annually by banning healthcare facilities from flushing hazardous waste pharmaceuticals down the sink and toilet.

More Summit Voice stories on pharmaceutical pollution:

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Cocktail of pharmaceuticals affecting basic stream health

Antihistimines are drying up rock-coating algae

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Research shows that pharmaceutical waste is affecting basic stream ecology.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Antihistimines used to treat allergies do more than dry up runny noses. Remnant traces of the pharmaceuticals, now commonly found in many streams and rivers, are having a significant effect on basic biological processes, with as-yet unknown impacts on aquatic life and water quality.

“Pharmaceutical pollution is now detected in waters throughout the world. Causes include aging infrastructure, sewage overflows, and agricultural runoff, said Dr. Emma Rosi-Marshall, a scientist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, lead author of a study that examined how common pharmaceuticals influenced similar-sized streams in New York, Maryland, and Indiana.

The study looked for traces of Caffeine, the antibiotic ciprofloxacin, the antidiabetic metformin, two antihistimines used to treat heartburn (cimetidine and ranitidine), and one antihistamine used to treat allergies (diphenhydramine). Continue reading

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