National Drug Take-back Day

Good Time to De-Clutter the Medicine Cabinet

By Andrea Bennett

For many of us, fall can be a good time to de-clutter things around the house, such as the garage, that closet in the guest room, and the medicine cabinet. While going through that medicine cabinet, it’s not uncommon to find expired and never-used medications sitting on a shelf, just taking up space. Flushing them down the toilet means they wind up in rivers, lakes, and streams, potentially hurting animals living in the water and people who drink it.

Fortunately, there are better and safer ways to get rid of these medicines. During National Drug Take-back Day on October 26th, you can drop off your unwanted drugs nearby, usually at a city or county building, police station, or senior center. Information on locations can be found online or by calling 1-800-882-9539.

You’ll also find that many communities have permanent drop-boxes. You can find information about the closest drug drop-box near you online.  Also, some pharmacies have drop-boxes or can provide mail-back containers for drug disposal.

One of my co-workers explains, “I read in our local paper that the police station had a drop-box, and then one got put up at the senior center, too. I had leftover drugs around the house, plus the doctor changed my prescriptions a few times, so it’s great to have safe places to drop off drugs whenever I want.”

There are even permanent drop-boxes for medication for pets and farm animals. For example, the Berks County Agricultural Center in Pennsylvania accepts veterinary medicines.

If you can’t participate in National Drug Take-back Day or you are unable to use a local drop-box, you still can safely dispose of your unwanted drugs at home by following the instructions on our fact sheet.

Remember, we all need to do our part in keeping drugs out of our water!

About the Author: Andrea Bennett works in the Water Protection Division’s Office of Drinking Water and Source Water Protection. She also participates in hazardous waste recycling days.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Got Drugs? Make the Connection!

By Kelly Dulka

This Saturday, September 29th, is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.  What does this have to do with the environment you ask? Well, let me tell you about a discussion I had with some friends last week.

I live in a little, rural community that happens to be a peninsula surrounded by water.  I was mentioning to a couple of my friends who have a waterfront home about the take-back day coming up.  I was surprised to hear them say that they just flush their expired prescription meds.  The homes in our little community rely on wells for our water and septic tanks/fields for waste disposal.  I explained to them how whatever we flush passes through our septic fields, into the ground, and will very likely end up in our rivers.

Prescription medications fall under the category of pharmaceuticals and personal care product pollutants (PPCPs). Even in other, less rural communities there are no municipal water treatment plants equipped to remove PPCPs from water.

So what’s the big deal? Although we aren’t exactly certain yet what the effects of these pollutants are, one thing is for sure, it can’t be helping the aquatic wildlife and ecosystems, many of which are struggling even without this additional burden.

I know my friends love the river; and enjoy both the recreational fun, and the fish and seafood it provides for us. Sometimes I think people do things because that’s the way they’ve always done things. It’s important for all of us to learn about the issue, and make the connection between our actions and the consequences on our environment.

So in the next few days, gather up those old, expired prescription medications, and on Saturday take them to a drop off center near you for proper disposal.

About the author: Kelly Dulka works in the Office of Web Communications.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Spring Sneezing Leads to Spring Cleaning

By Lisa Lauer

That fabulous time of year is here again: spring. I love it, but really, who doesn’t? My typical morning commute changes from being surrounded by headlights and taillights in the darkness, to seeing the sun rising and the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin. During the commute back home, the warm weather beckons me to roll down the car windows. Of course, I do so against better judgment. I know that the dreaded P-word will come blowing in, forcing me to inhale it… and everyone with seasonal allergies, do it with me now: deep breath in, big sneeze out.

I refuse to let the pollen control my life. I’m armed with my neti pot, my daily-used prescription nasal spray, and my choice supply of over-the-counter sinus decongestants and pain relievers. So as usual this time of year, I’m forced to visit the closet where I keep over-the-counter and prescription drugs. I dread it as I know what I will find: lots of expired medications. The reasons why people keep unused medications around are various. But for me, I find it difficult to toss out unused medications because I have spent money on them. It just seems so wasteful. Besides, there’s the whole issue surrounding their disposal. For me, flushing or pouring medications down the drain is out of the question, and while the Office of National Drug Control Policy does offer guidelines for disposing of medications into the garbage, I’ve just never gotten around to it.

However, this spring I vow to cleanse my house of expired medications. I’m scouring the usual locations where medications may be stashed,including the bin with pet supplies in the laundry room, because my pets have expired medications, too. I’m also going to take advantage of National Drug Take-Back Day which the Drug Enforcement Administration is holding on Saturday, April 30th, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. The DEA website shows numerous locations in my zip code that will be collecting unwanted medications. Is there one near you? If not, your state may already have an on-going pharmaceutical collection program.

About the author: Lisa Lauer works in EPA’s Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery and has been with the Agency for 9 years. Now that she has spring-cleaned her medicine cabinets, she can focus her spring cleaning efforts on the windows (using just vinegar and water, of course).

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

National Drug Take-Back Day

By Lina Younes

I remember when I was a teenager and I would regularly go through the medicine cabinet checking the expiration dates of medications. Since my father was a physician, he would often get samples from pharmaceutical companies promoting their wares. With time, these samples piled up and ended up in the trash unused. I thought nothing of it back then.

Several decades later we have seen several reports on the presence of pharmaceuticals in water and the potential risks to human health and aquatic life. EPA and its federal partners are taking steps to address the issue regarding public education and proper disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in water. However, have you stopped to think what you can do at home?

Well, for starters, there is going to be a National Drug Take-Back Day at a location near you on September 25th. The main objective is to allow individuals to drop off their excess prescription and over-the-counter medications at select collection centers for proper disposal. The benefits will be threefold. First, by removing these unused medications in your home, you’ll prevent unintentional poisonings of children, the elderly and pets. Secondly, by participating in this “take-back” event, you’ll avoid having these drugs from contaminating our environment. Thirdly, you’ll also prevent prescription drugs from falling into the wrong hands. In essence, it’s a win-win throughout: protecting public health and safety, taking care of the environment and cleaning out your medicine cabinet all for a good cause. After the event, the medications will be disposed of properly with minimum impact on the environment. Please visit this website and plug in your zip code to find a collection site near you. It’s that simple.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.