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Saying No to Drugs in Water

2010 June 17

Don't flush your old prescriptions!

Don't flush your old prescriptions!

While prescription drugs may fix what ails you, they’re bad medicine for our waterways. As the federal government focuses on the impacts of pharmaceuticals in water, you can do your part to keep traces of left-over pills from popping up in your neighborhood rivers. Do you know we shouldn’t be flushing any drug down the toilet or drain unless the label or accompanying information tells us to do so? I discovered that some cities or counties have organized events called drug take-back programs where you can bring your unused or unwanted prescription or over the counter pharmaceuticals for collection and incineration. Not every area has a program through, so EPA’s Mid-Atlantic region also recommends these steps to properly dispose of unused medicines:
1. Take your prescription drugs out of their original containers
2. Mix drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.
3. Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty margarine tub, or into a sealable bag.
4. Conceal or remove any personal information, including your Rx number, on the empty pill containers by covering it with black permanent marker or duct tape, or by scratching it off.
5. Place the sealed container with the mixture, and the empty drug containers, in the trash.

Made you curious? Find more information and tips on pharmaceuticals in water or if you’re interested in learning more about a take back program in your area, leave a comment on this blog.

What else do you think would heighten awareness of this issue and keep drugs meant for your system out of the water system?

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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29 Responses leave one →
  1. Karen R. permalink
    June 22, 2010

    Would it be okay to recycle cleaned plastic prescription bottles? Some of mine have numbers like 2 or 5 on them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  2. Ellen permalink*
    June 23, 2010

    Hi Karen,
    As long as your locality accepts #2 and #5 type plastics, it is fine to recycle cleaned prescription bottles. Another environmentally friendly move is to reuse your empty (and cleaned) prescription bottles. Here are a few ways I have reused my own bottles:
    – travel container for shampoo or barettes
    – condiment or salad dressing carrier for packed lunch
    – container for different sized nails, nuts & bolts
    Ellen

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. nuts&bolts permalink
    June 23, 2010

    Hey! I use them for nuts and bolts all the time….and beads, too. Whenever I’m doing beading, they are great organizers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. June 24, 2010

    Stop this!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  5. Tina Chen permalink
    July 1, 2010

    Ask your local pharmacy if they will take make back your empties. I used to give back empty bottles to my local CVS.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. August 10, 2010

    I think that is an interesting point, it made me think a bit. Thanks for sparking my thinking cap. Sometimes I get so much in a rut that I just feel like a record.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. August 22, 2010

    Whatever , water system is verry polluted I and use just filtrated water

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. September 13, 2010

    You have a fantastic post here, extremely helpful. Very well written I shall be bookmarking your website and subscribing to your feed so i can always read content of this quality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. September 16, 2010

    This is crazy. I cant say I agree with everything but I did learn something new!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. September 25, 2010

    This reminds me of the Baltic Sea inbetween Sweden and the Baltic countries. I read somewhere on the net that they have BIG problems with this over there.

    Thanks for bringing this up!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. September 25, 2010

    Nice stuff, Just passed this on to a friend who read up on this and she took me to dinner after I showed her this site. So, appreciate it!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. October 5, 2010

    Someone I work with checks your site out quite often and recommended it to me to read too. The writing style is fantastic and the content is pertinent. Thanks for the insight you provide the subscribers!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. October 14, 2010

    Great post. I’ve just bookmarked your page. Thank you!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. October 28, 2010

    Yet another great post, always nice to read your site! Keep up the good work!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. October 30, 2010

    Pretty insightful post. Never thought that it was this simple after all. I had spent a good deal of my time looking for someone to explain this subject clearly and you’re the only one that ever did that. Kudos to you! Keep it up

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. October 30, 2010

    I learn something new on different blogs everyday. It is always refreshing to read posts of other bloggers and learn something from them. Thanks for sharing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. November 1, 2010

    Hi,very good website that you have. I just finished my first blog.I was looking for tips to write goood posts and your blog will certainly help me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. Josh permalink
    November 20, 2010

    This is very useful info. Thanks for writing it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. November 21, 2010

    Hey I love your style I will subscribe for your feed please keep posting!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. December 1, 2010

    You’re on the money with what you say. Thanks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. December 7, 2010

    Great work keep it coming, best blog on earth

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. December 14, 2010

    I didn’t know that prescription drugs were bad medicine for our waterways. I learned something new. Thanks for sharing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. December 20, 2010

    I guess that’s indicative of our waterways ability to purify the water. I think people in general should opt for bottled water, boil their own water or install a filter in their own home. That should eliminate most of the issues associated with people flushing specific drugs down the toilets.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. December 22, 2010

    Everybody should have the right to clean water.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  25. January 5, 2011

    Hey ! if you want to drink a pure water this is very useful . thanks for discus on this topic .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  26. January 11, 2011

    This website is known as a stroll-by for all the information you wanted about this and didn’t know who to ask. Glimpse right here, and you’ll definitely uncover it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  27. January 12, 2011

    Good stuff, now how do we stop the chemicals and medications from farms getting into the water supply/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  28. January 24, 2011

    Hey! I simply want to give an enormous thumbs up for the great data you will have here on this post. I can be coming back to your weblog for more soon.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. January 24, 2011

    Very Interesting Blog! Thank You For Thi Information!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

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