12° Nicosia,
14 July, 2024

Proper disposal of medical waste needed to prevent wastewater contamination

Proper management urged as study reveals widespread contaminants in wastewater


Improper disposal of unused or expired medicines, whether in waste bins or down drains, poses significant risks, according to the Environment Department and Dr. Nikolas Dietis, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Cyprus School of Medicine. They stress the importance of raising public awareness and adopting proper management practices for these substances.

A study released last year investigated 200 contaminants of emerging concern (CECs), including medicinal products, artificial sweeteners, industrial chemicals, and other compounds, in wastewater samples from five wastewater treatment plants in Cyprus.

The Environment Department urges the public to return medicines for proper management in their original packaging at designated collection points, currently available at Green Points.

Disposing of expired or unused medicines in waste bins leads them to end up in landfills with household waste, while improper disposal down toilets allows these substances to enter sewage systems and the environment. This practice poses the risk of these active substances re-entering the food chain and impacting ecosystems, particularly aquatic life.

To mitigate these environmental concerns, effective management of pharmaceutical waste is essential. Dr. Dietis emphasizes the need to educate the public on proper disposal methods and ensure correct waste management across healthcare facilities.

The Department for the Environment cites regulations on waste management, published last March, which require wholesale sellers or manufacturers of pharmaceutical products to establish a collective system for managing domestic pharmaceutical waste. This network of collection points will allow the public to return pharmaceutical waste, in its original packaging, free of charge to designated locations like pharmacies. This waste will then be sent for proper management at licensed facilities.

A study conducted by academics from various universities, including the University of Cyprus, revealed the presence of 200 contaminants of emerging concern in influent and effluent wastewater samples collected from five wastewater treatment plants in Cyprus. This study emphasizes the importance of identifying and quantifying these contaminants due to their potential adverse effects on the environment and human health, particularly in agricultural applications and aquatic environments.  [Cyprus News Agency]

Cyprus  |  medicines  |  health  |  environment

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