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Don't Flush Old Pills Down the Toilet!

Don't Flush Old Pills Down the Toilet!Previously, people had been encouraged to flush unused and expired pills down the toilet to avoid children or pets getting their hands on them and potentially eating them.  This was initially thought to be safer than throwing them in the garbage, but over the past few years there has been evidence that pills flushed down the toilet is as bad for the environment as tossing them in the trash.

Pills flushed down the toilet end up in waterways.  It is believed that once they end up in the water, they can cause health problems in fish and other marine wildlife.   There have even been studies showing that  fish are developing reproductive abnormalities due to exposure to birth control pills. 

Throwing them in the trash is also dangerous.  Animals can get into your trash and eat the pills and if the trash spills the medications can get into the environment and harm wildlife as well.  Also, while in a landfill, the pills can leach into groundwater supplies.

The big question is:  if you can't throw your discarded pills in the trash and you can't flush them down the toilet, what could you do with them?

There are two good options!

First, there is SMARxT Disposal.  It's a public awareness campaign that was created by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the American Pharmacists Association, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.    SMARxT Disposal recommends doing the following to discard of old and unused pills:   Pour the medicine into a sealable plastic bag, crush it and add water to dissolve it,  and add kitty litter, sawdust, or coffee grounds to make it less appealing to children or animals.  Don't forget to destroy personal information before recycling the containers to avoid identity theft!

Alternatively, your municipality might have hazardous waste collection programs.   You can find out where to dispose of old medications using the search at Earth911


Got Drugs?- DEA wants them

The Drug Enforcement Administration is hosting a National Take-Back initiative on September 25, 2010.  You can search for a drop-off location near you.



Great info!

I will definitely be searching for a drop-off location.  I have some pills I need to get rid of.  

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