A set of regulatory changes from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will affect optometric practices and clinics starting Aug. 21, according to the American Optometric Association.
Hazardous waste pharmaceutical (HWP) management standards will prohibit healthcare facilities from disposing of such wastes down the drain, AOA reports. The standards apply to all healthcare facilities, irrespective of size or waste generation.
The rules are intended to “reduce the environmental and human health risks associated with some 1,644 to 2,300 tons of HWPs annually flushed down sinks, toilets or drains,” the association explains.
AOA is advising optometrists “to no longer rinse the remaining residue from empty pharmaceutical vessels and packaging, instead disposing of HWPs and packaging in hazardous waste accumulation containers.”
“What’s more, these new EPA regulations require certain HWPs to be sent to reverse distributors for manufacturer credit and, thus, cannot be disposed on-site,” the association states. “Based on the AOA’s evaluation, these new regulations will not apply to lens-edger waste from spectacle lenses — ‘swarf’ — as that byproduct is not considered a pharmaceutical, per the EPA’s definition.
“Doctors of optometry with optical labs on-site are not required to make changes to swarf disposal based on this rule; however, the AOA will continue to monitor developments in solutions for recycling polycarbonate waste.”
The EPA says there will be no new inspection requirements for healthcare facilities.


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