Legislation sponsored by Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman (R-Somerset) to prohibit health care facilities from discharging prescription medications into public sewer or septic systems was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie.
“The improper disposal of unused medications is a direct threat to human health and the environment,” Bateman said. “It poses long-term health consequences and the potential for rampant abuse of drugs, especially among teenagers. This law establishes, and makes health care workers accountable to, the safest disposal of unused drugs.”
According to the Associated Press, a vast array of pharmaceuticals – including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers, and sex hormones – have been found in the drinking water supplies of some 41 million Americans. An AP National Investigative Team recently discovered that medications have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas, includingNew Jersey. It has also been reported that researchers at the United States Geological Survey analyzed a Passaic Valley Water Commission drinking water treatment plant, which serves 850,000 people in northernNew Jersey, and found a metabolized angina medicine and the mood-stabilizing carbamazepine in drinking water.
Bateman’s law, formerly S-81, would require the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to issue recommendations for the proper disposal of unused medications within 90 days after the date of enactment of this bill into law. The bill would also require every health care institution to have a disposal plan available for state inspectors. Any health care facility that violates this law is subject to a maximum civil administrative penalty of $1,000 for a first violation and $2,500 for each subsequent violation.