You know you shouldn't pour hazardous chemicals like paint down the drain, but what about unused prescriptions?
It's common for folks to flush old prescriptions down the toilet, but this is actually terrible for the environment. Unlike other waste, municipal water systems have a hard time filtering out drugs in the water. We're seeing a build up of drugs like anti-depressants, birth control, and antibiotics in our water supply, and it's not good for human health when that water is recycled or for marine life when it's flushed back out to sea.
Safe Pharmaceutical Disposal
If you're getting rid of unused prescriptions, the best option is to find a hazardous waste disposal facility that will take the pills off of your hands and dispose of them safely. Cities, hospitals, and pharmacies sometimes will host annual turn in days where you can bring unused pills back for safe disposal.
Looking for a place to take pills near you? Earth911 is a great resource! Just search for "pharmaceuticals" in your area to see if there are drop off options.
If you can't find a disposal center or a turn in day in your area, the trash bin is your last resort. The federal guidelines here in the U.S. say:
1. Take your prescription drugs out of their original containers.
2. Mix drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.
3. Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty margarine tub, or into a sealable bag.
4. Conceal or remove any personal information, including Rx number, on the empty containers by covering it with black permanent marker or duct tape, or by scratching it off.
5. Place the sealed container with the mixture, and the empty drug containers, in the trash.
Have you guys found other safe ways to dispose of prescription drugs?
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Ioan Sameli