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C-FERST Issue Profile: Hazardous Waste/Pharmaceuticals in Water

Waste that has the potential to have a harmful effect on human health or the environment is classified as hazardous waste.

Hazardous waste can be generated from many sources, ranging from industrial manufacturing processes to household products. Hazardous waste can also come in many forms, including liquid, solid, gas, or sludge (semi-solid/semi-liquid).

When improperly managed, hazardous waste can pose a threat to human health and the environment. EPA regulates the management and disposal of hazardous waste, as authorized by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), passed in 1976.

In recent years, pharmaceuticals (i.e., prescription medicines) have been found at low levels in water, raising concerns about the risks they may pose to humans and the environment. There is potential for pharmaceutical drug residues to be present in treated municipal wastewater, however, little is known about the extent of their prevalence in this environment or the potential risks they may pose. EPA conducts research to study these risks and their potential effects.

Learn more about hazardous waste and pharmaceuticals in water by exploring the links below.