Old Medicine? Dispose of it properly…

After being much under the weather last week… I was forced to look through the medicine cabinet and found that almost everything that was there was very old and expired.  I then realized that I had no idea what to do with all of this expired medicine.

My first instinct was to flush it all down the toilet.  When I mentioned this to my boyfriend, he immediately thought it was a bad idea.  So I decided to look it up and see what the real issues with this were.  What I found was scary.  Here are some of the effects of disposing old medications in the toilet:

  • Contamination of rivers and lakes.  The contamination of these rivers and lakes affect the fish population.  Fish in many cities have been found to have high levels of medication in their system thus causing reproduction issues as well as issues when consumed by humans.
  • Contamination of drinking water.  Unfortunately, when the water source is polluted all of that old medication isn’t able to be removed from the water before it is passed as safe for drinking. There are no federal standards that require testing to remove drugs from drinking water either.  Filters that are used for bottled water are still not able to remove all traces of drugs from the drinking water.  Therefore, you could be consuming small amounts of diluted drugs in your drinking water.

From there I thought that I would just throw these away in the garbage.  But that can also lead to many issues:

  • Drugs that are thrown away can be found by children and consumed for recreational use.
  • When prescription drugs are thrown in the trash, many criminals search the dumpsters and landfills for the pill bottles to steal personal information and to find old medication to sell on the streets.
  • And finally, drugs that are disposed of through the trash end up in landfills and ultimately biodegrade and/or leak into the soil and thus cause the contamination of soil and ultimately the reserve water supply.

So, then what are you supposed to do to dispose of old medications?  There are many websites that contain information on how to properly dispose of medication.  Here are a few:

Another options available are:

  • Walgreens… something I again only learned when I was sick and standing at the pharmacy counter.  There you can purchase a pre-addressed mailing envelope for $2.99 that you can fill all of your old expired medications and send to a facility to properly dispose of your medications.
  • Doctor’s offices.  At many doctor’s offices they have receptacles for recycling old medications that you can dispose of them properly.
  • Pharmacy’s.  Many pharmacy’s will take back old medication back if you are not going to use it or if it is old and/or expired.

If you are dead-set on disposing of medications from home… take these steps before disposing of them:

  • If you are getting rid of pills: put water in the container and keep sealed in the airtight, childproof container.  By doing this, you will dissolve the medications in the liquid so that they cannot be consumed later.  Then add in either flour or kitty litter to absorb the liquid and will keep the medication safe from leaking into the soil at landfills.
  • If you are disposing of liquid medication: Keep in the airtight container and add in flour or kitty litter to the mix in order to help absorb the medication and thus help it from leaking out of the container and into soil.
  • When you dispose in the trash, place sealed containers in a plastic bag to further protect the medications from leaking into the soil.

Whatever you may do to dispose of your old medications, make sure that you are taking every precaution to reduce the amount of medications that are polluting our water supply.

If you know of any other methods to disposing of your old medications, please let me know.

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One Response to Old Medicine? Dispose of it properly…

  1. kathydcv says:

    Our old meds had been gathering dust in our cupboards for a while because I didn’t know what to do with them. Thankfully, one of our local hospitals recently had a day where you could bring in all your old meds, prescription or over the counter, for them to be disposed of properly.

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