October 9, 2007

medicine down the toilet

I'm always keen to get rid of things we don't need. I like reducing clutter. I was just thinking it was about time to clean out our outdated medicine supply. Fortuitously, I saw an article on The Green Guide today about proper disposal of medicines. If you (like me) remember being told to flush them down the toilet for safety, think again.

Medications flushed down the toilet may or may not be "cleaned" out of the water at the water treatment plant. They can end up in the environment, in animals and in soils used for agriculture. The Green Guide article states, "pharmaceuticals have found their way into drinking-water supplies, including Montana well water and New Jersey tap water."

So, I wonder, what is the better way to dispose of the medicine? The American Pharmacists Association recommends:
• Crush solid medications or dissolve them in water (this applies for liquid medications as well) and mix with kitty litter or sawdust (or any material that absorbs the dissolved medication and makes it less appealing for pets or children to eat), then place in a sealed plastic bag BEFORE tossing in the trash.
• Remove and destroy ALL identifying personal information (prescription label) from the medication container.
• Check for approved state and local collection programs or with area hazardous waste facilities. In certain states, you may be able to take your unused medications to your community pharmacy
Gosh. I don't have kitty litter or sawdust around. After reading this I decided to check Earth 911 to see if there was a local place the medicines could be dropped off. Turns out there are not any in my county, though other counties do have places for their residents.

So, until I figure out a better solution, I'm going to leave them right where they are. In the medicine box.


Anonymous said...

I recently asked my pediatrician how to safely dispose of my son's unnused medications and was appalled that she suggested flushing. Needless to say, I didn't do that. They are still in my medicine cabinet. Glad to know that there is a safe way. Thanks for this!

Gift of Green said...

Also, some hospitals accept personal medical waste (like needles and syringes) even if you're not a patient.

Anonymous said...

Great info! Thank you.