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Don't flush medications down the drain!

When prescription or over-the-counter drugs are thrown into the garbage, or flushed down the sink or toilet, their chemical components may be added to the water supply or soil. The presence of these substances in the environment is emerging as an important national and international issue. Although the concentration levels of these products in the environment is very low, they may be enough to cause adverse effects in the environment and to human health. There are also concerns over the effects of medications ending up in drinking water sources.

Proper Use and Disposal of Medication: Please do not put pharmaceuticals down the drain or down the toilet. This includes any prescription or nonprescription substance intended to be swallowed, inhaled, injected, applied to the skin or eyes, or otherwise absorbed by the body.

ALTERNATIVES for disposing of medications

Check to see if your pharmacy has a drug recycling program that disposes of unused or expired drugs in an environmentally safe manner.

In limited cases, unused or expired pharmaceuticals can be returned to pharmacies for "take-back." This may be your best option if it is available to you. The household hazardous waste collection facilities in your area might accept home generated pharmaceuticals, it varies from municipality to municipality. Check with your local Household Hazardous Waste Program

At least once a year, go through your medicine cabinet and remove prescription drugs that are old or that you no longer take. Check the expiry dates on non-prescription drugs and remove those that are outdated as well. Take them all back to your pharmacy or to your municipal waste disposal depot.

Where to Dispose Lotions, Cosmetics, and Similar PPCPs

Ultimately, there is no such thing as throwing something away. When we "throw away" something, we really just put it somewhere else for long-term storage. In the case of lotions and cosmetics, and in the case of sharps and pharmaceuticals that we do not take back as described above, the best "somewhere else" to throw these items is your household trash, which in most cases will eventually find its way to a landfill. Landfills are the best place we currently know of for a household to put PPCPs for which the people in the home have no further use.

Why is this "innocent" chemical contamination a concern? Not only are humans affected by the increased resistance to antibacterial medications in the world of disease, but wildlife are also affected.

Frogs, fish and pharmaceuticals are a troubling brew—A number of aquatic and amphibian species are being exposed to small amounts of everything from Prozac to perfume to birth control pills that make their way into U.S. rivers and streams...

These contaminants are also entering our drinking water supplies. This contamination happens when medications are flushed or dumped into the water system versus being trashed in landfills in their solid state.