When medications expire, or they’re simply not needed anymore, people often just throw them into the garbage. This is actually not the correct way to dispose of old medications and in some states it may be illegal!
Basically, improperly disposing of medications can be dangerous because of water pollution and, especially if you have controlled substances, medication diversion.
How Bad Is Medication Pollution?
The Guardian reported in 2014 that scientists are finding tremendous amounts of pharmaceuticals in our local waterways.
Now, a lot of this pollution is from manufacturing and farming, but flushing unused medications also plays a part.
These chemicals are devastating the fish and other aquatic animals in these rivers, lakes and ponds. The Guardian paper I mentioned above also says that the female hormone estrogen is causing male fish to become feminized to the point that they start producing eggs themselves!
The lack of male fish in the waterways can cause large scale population decreases, because potential mates for the female fish are very low.
The United States Geological Survey reported that they found fairly large amounts of anti-depressants in fish brains downstream from a manufacturing plant. While the amounts are harmful to humans, they do change the fish’s behavior and make them less likely to eat, more aggressive, and antisocial.
The point is – any number of pharmaceuticals in our water is harmful. Maybe not yet to humans, but as time goes on and more medications will be polluting our fish and destroying their species.
How Can I Make Sure This Doesn’t Happen?
If you want to be a responsible consumer and make sure you aren’t polluting anything there are a few things you can do at home for no cost.
First, the DEA recommends if you want to avoid drug diversion you can put coffee grounds or grease in your pill bottle and then throw them away. The idea is nobody will want to take the medication if the bottle is filled with something gross.
However, you are still tossing the meds in your garbage where they can pollute the landfill. The safest way to dispose of old medication is through a pharmaceutical mailback program.
Essentially we send you a pharma bucket, a shipping box and shipping label, you fill the bucket up, and ship it back to us!
We ensure all the medication is properly disposed of, and we will give you a certificate of destruction.
If you’re interested in checking this out, go to our Pharmaceutical Mailback page!