Spring Cleaning – In Your Medicine Cabinet

by Megan Keegan

Drug Take-BackTrees are blooming, the grass is greening, and its finally time to throw open the windows for a little spring cleaning!  This year, don’t just dust the corner cobwebs and air out the linens—take this opportunity to clean out your medicine cabinet!

Don’t flush those expired medications! Turn them in at a take-back location on April 30.

Don’t flush those expired medications! Turn them in at a take-back location on April 30.

On Saturday, April 30, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will host another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, an excellent opportunity to get rid of unwanted or expired medicines.

Why make the extra effort to drop off the meds when you could just flush them, trash them, or deal with them later?

Proper drug disposal helps protect our waterways. When we flush or trash meds they  can end up polluting our waterways, because they are sometimes difficult to remove from water using conventional water treatment methods.  As a result, trace amounts of drugs can negatively impact fish reproduction, contribute to antibiotic resistance, and even end up in our drinking water. EPA gathered data on a few select pharmaceuticals during the third round of Contaminant Candidate List monitoring. The Potomac River Basin Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership – focused on protecting the drinking water for nearly 5 million people in four states and the District of Columbia – provides outreach on proper drug disposal in the 14,670 square mile Potomac River Watershed.

It helps protect your family.  Lingering stores of unwanted or expired drugs can lead to misuse or an accidental poisoning.  According to the DEA, proper disposal of medication is an important step in battling our nation’s high rate of prescription drug abuse. Over half of teens abusing medicines get them from a family member or friend, including the home medicine cabinet, and often without their knowledge.

While there are steps you can take to safely dispose of drugs in your home, drug take-back programs are widely regarded as the first choice – the safest and most responsible way to dispose of unwanted or expired medicines.  Mark your calendars now, and use the link on this DEA page to find a collection site near you!


About the author: Meg Keegan works with diverse drinking water partnerships in the Source Water Protection program. She likes to do lunchtime runs on the Schuylkill river trail.




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