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Meds Disposal

Disposal of unused/unwanted medications

Expired or unwanted prescription or over-the-counter medications from households have traditionally been disposed of by flushing them down the toilet or a drain. Although this method of disposal prevents immediate accidental ingestion, it can cause pollution in wastewater, which has been demonstrated to cause adverse effects on fish and other aquatic wildlife. When the water is eventually reused, it can also cause unintentional human exposure to chemicals in medications.

To properly dispose of medications, follow these tips before you toss them in the trash.

1. Keep the medication in its original container. The labels may contain safety information and the caps are typically childproof. Leaving the content information clearly visible, scratch the patients name out or cover it over with permanent marker.

2. Modify the medications to discourage consumption. For solid medications such as pills or capsules: add a small amount of water to at least partially dissolve them.  For liquid medications: add enough table salt, flour, charcoal or non-toxic powdered spice, such as turmeric or mustard to make a pungent, unsightly mixture that discourages anyone from eating it. For blister packs: wrap the blister packages containing pills in multiple layers of duct or other opaque tape.

3. Seal and Conceal. Tape the medication container shut with packing or duct tape and place it inside a non-transparent bag or container such as an empty yogurt or margarine tub to ensure that the contents cannot be seen. Do not conceal medicines in food products because they could be inadvertently consumed by wildlife scavengers.

4. Discard the container in your garbage can. Do not place in the recycling bin.