A law signed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie bans health care facilities from improperly disposing of prescription medications, by discharging them into public sewer or septic systems.
Before the law goes into effect, state officials must devise guidelines for the proper disposal of unused medications, and health care institutions must present compliance plans for approval. Penalties for facilities that violate the law will start at $1,000, CBS Philly reports. Each subsequent violation will bring a fine of $2,500.
“The improper disposal of unused medications is a direct threat to human health and the environment,” bill sponsor State Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman said in a news release. “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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), research has shown that pharmaceuticals—including prescription drugs—are present in water and may cause environmental harm. “Although there is no current evidence that these pharmaceuticals in the environment are responsible for any negative health effects in humans, keeping our water clean is an important public health goal,” the CDC notes.