The results of a study conducted by the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies released last April found that antihistamines, as well as other medications, actually contribute to pollution and the disruption of ecosystems in streams. This might come as a bit of a surprise since most people don’t think of drugs, or at least pharmaceuticals, as litter as often as items like fast food wrappers. However, the study finds that they are clearly having an impact on the environment. As a result, anyone who uses medications regularly should learn proper pharmaceutical disposal methods. The right medication disposal will help make sure that harmful drugs are less likely to work their way into the environment.
Drug take-back events are the best way for people to get rid of old or simply unwanted drugs. Every city and county is different, but most will provide a hazardous material collection day that will allow residents to bring in prescription drugs and other items that they need to get rid of. Plus, some drug stores offer programs as well. For instance, in New York, all Kinney Pharmacies collect non-controlled prescription and over-the-counter medications on the last Saturday of every month. Those programs tend to be the safest and most reliable option for pharmaceutical disposal.
Fortunately, if there is no program where you live or you simply don’t have the time to go, there is an EPA-recommended process of how to dispose of medication.
- Remove drugs from their original containers.
- Mix them with a material like cat litter or coffee grounds that is undesirable.
- Place the mixture in a margarine tub, seasoning bag, or other disposable container with a lid.
- Be sure to remove or hide any personal revealing information on drug packaging.
- Place the container and its contents into a garbage can for proper disposal.
Many people believe that flushing their medications down the toilet is a good way to get rid of them safely, but the EPA warns against doing that unless a label or instructions says to. Flushing medications might be good for making sure kids aren’t able to get access to them, but it is not a good pharmaceutical disposal method and can contribute to toxins and contaminants in water systems.
One of the more startling littering facts is that improperly disposed-of medications contribute to water pollution. Millions of Americans depend on drugs to live a healthy and happy life, but the wrong disposal techniques could contribute to water pollution. So if you want to go green, then making sure to use drug take-back programs or the proper home disposal options is always a must.