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).

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