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Medical and Pharmaceutical Waste for Households

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You or someone in your family may need to dispose of waste medication or other medical waste when someone is cared for at home, generally because the medication expired, the prescription was changed, or the medication was discontinued before it was completely used. Private individuals can help keep medical and pharmaceutical waste safely out of the environment by properly disposing of medical and pharmaceutical wastes that are generated in their homes. 


In addition, persons or pets that have been administered certain radioactive materials (radiopharmaceuticals) - most commonly iodine-131 for thyroid cancer or treatment - 

will excrete radioactive materials through urine, sweat, saliva and fecal matter for days or even weeks following the treatment. While these excreted materials are exempt from regulatory requirements, some items used by these patients (such as adult diapers, eating utensils or kitty litter) can become contaminated with low levels of radioactive material and cause problems at the landfill. When put into the trash for disposal, these radioactively contaminated wastes may trigger an alarm at the landfill, which may result in the State of Colorado Radiation Program responding to the landfill alarm to determine the cause. This wastes Colorado's resources and time. Patients and family members who are caring for patients or pets who have received such materials should closely follow the instructions provided by the medical facility that administered the treatment. Typically, these instructions require the contaminated wastes (diapers, litter, etc.) be held by the patient or family for a set period of time - usually a week or more after treatment - before placing it in the trash. Any questions about waste disposal should be referred to the facility that administered the treatment.  









For more information, contact us at comments.hmwmd@state.co.us .