If your household is one of many with overflowing medicine cabinets, now’s the time to take action and dispose of those unused meds properly.
It’s a common misconception that medicine should always be flushed down the toilet. This can actually contaminate drinking water, affecting us and wildlife. Aquatic Toxicology published a study concluding that the absorption of pharmaceutical contaminants can affect the behavior of fish, which disrupts the delicate balance of their ecosystem.
Approved Disposal Programs
By far, the safest way to discard your unused medication is through a drug take-back program. You can find a certified disposal location near you with this tool, provided by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Most of the locations are local pharmacies and hospitals, so you won’t have to travel far.
If you don’t have access to an approved program, safely discard your medicine at home. Before you do so, check the label or information pamphlet for each medication, as some have specific disposal instructions.
The FDA published a list of medicines that should be flushed instead of thrown away. These substances are considered potentially dangerous enough to humans that the consequences of flushing outweigh those of improper disposal.
Conceal and Toss
Medication not on the flush list should be thrown out in a way that will deter children and pets. The recommended method is to mix the medicine with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or coffee grounds. Place that mixture in a disposable container or bag and throw it away.
Discard the packaging as well, as it may contain traces of chemicals from the meds. Remove or scratch out any personal information and promptly throw away or recycle it.