Summary of On November 20, 2004, DTSC Memo
(written by Ann Heil of LACSD)
On November 20, 2004, DTSC issued a memo clarifying its authority to regulate household pharmaceutical wastes.
The memo states that DTSC has no regulatory authority over household pharmaceutical wastes. This is because household pharmaceutical wastes could fall under three categories, and DTSC doesn't regulate any of these three
1) Household pharmaceutical wastes that are listed RCRA or characteristic RCRA wastes. DTSC normally enforces RCRA regulations, but RCRA excludes household wastes from regulation. Therefore these wastes would not be regulated by DTSC (and although it isn't stated in the letter, DHS would also not regulate these wastes, since they don't have any authority to implement RCRA regulations).
2) Household pharmaceutical wastes that have the characteristics of CA-hazardous wastes. Pharmaceuticals with CA-hazardous waste characteristics would be regulated by DHS under the Medical Waste Management Act (instead of DTSC), and this act specifically excludes household wastes from regulation (see HSC Sections 117700 and 117670). So these wastes aren't regulated by DTSC or DHS.
3) They do not have the characteristics of hazardous waste. Then they are not regulated by DTSC or DHS, because these agencies only regulate pharmaceuticals with hazardous characteristics.
Although the logic may be difficult to follow (it is a real challenge to understand this part of California's regulations!), DTSC makes it clear in the letter that they definitely do not regulate any household pharmaceutical wastes. They do note that other federal, state, and local laws may apply (that DTSC does not implement). In its memo, DTSC states that "this determination will facilitate collection of household pharmaceutical wastes by eliminating the authorization requirements typically required for household hazardous waste collection programs." So no DTSC authorization is required to collect household pharmaceutical wastes.
Please feel fee to pass along the DTSC letter to any household hazardous waste collection programs that may be interested.
Updated December 20, 2004