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Landfill Disposal as an Approach to Reduce Discharges of Medicines from POTWs

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The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) initiated research in 1999 to evaluate the pathways and fate of active pharmaceutical ingredients from the consumer to surface waters. One potential pathway identified by PhRMA is the disposal of unused pharmaceutical products that are discarded by consumers in household trash and disposed of in municipal solid waste landfills. PhRMA initiated this study to evaluate surface water exposures through the landfill disposal pathway.

The estimated releases to surface water of 24 example active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in landfill leachate were calculated for three assumed disposal scenarios: 5%, 10%, and 15% of the total annual quantity of API sold is discarded unused. The estimated releases from landfills to surface waters, after treatment of the leachate, were compared to the total amount of each example API that would be released to surface waters from publicly owned treatment works, generated by patient use and excretion.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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