While the FDA has and still recommends flushing certain medications depending on the state, this isn’t the best course of action for medication disposal. Here’s why.
Because medicines are commonly found in medicine cabinets, on top of dressers, in kitchen cabinets, and in other accessible locations, it is important to take stock of the drugs in your home. If you have unwanted or expired prescriptions, you should dispose of them in order to keep your home safe, as this reduces the chance that others may accidentally take or intentionally misuse the unneeded medicine.
Pharmaceutical waste management is a long and complicated topic that falls within the hub of hazardous waste management. Many studies conducted in the U.S. have revealed pharmaceutical compounds in both surface and ground waters. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ruling “Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals,” while is specific to healthcare facilities, is a good launching pad for home disposal, too.
The rule was designed to make drinking water safer and healthier by reducing pharmaceuticals in waterways. Going back as far as early 2000, a U.S. Geological Survey found perceptible amounts of one or more medications in 80% of water samples drawn from a network of 139 streams in 30 states. Those statistics are pretty alarming.
While the FDA has and still recommends flushing certain medications depending on the state, this isn’t the best course of action for medication disposal. Putting unused medications down the drain or flushing them down the toilet may expose drinking water to the chemicals. This can cause ecological harm, as our current sewage treatment systems are not effective in removing all drugs from waterways.
There are a couple of options to recycle your medications responsibly. The best option is to take advantage of Drug Take Back programs that are held a couple times a year by municipalities and National Drug Take Back Days that are provided by the Federal DEA. Mail back programs are also easy and convenient.
Just like we segregate medical waste, it’s important to separate pharmaceutical waste, too. Rather than gamble with the environment and the health of our communities, it is best to speak with a medical waste removal company, like Red Bags about unused and unwanted medication disposal.
Here are some additional resources about at-home and pharmaceutical waste management:
- Pill Bottles and Prescriptions: Protection for Patients
- Home Medical Waste Management