When used as intended, pharmaceuticals applied externally or ingested have the potential to be excreted or washed into sewage systems. In addition, unused pharmaceuticals are often directly flushed to sewage systems. Wastewater treatment plants and septic systems usually do not treat or only partially treat pharmaceuticals, so chemical compounds from pharmaceuticals pass through treatment plants or septic systems to our rivers or groundwater.
Recent research shows that pharmaceutical compounds exist in our environment both as a result of improper disposal of unused pharmaceuticals and because they are excreted by the person using the medication.
Alternative Disposal Recommendations:
|DO dispose of waste pharmaceuticals,
including chemotherapeutic wastes, in garbage that is intended for a permitted
solid waste landfill or incinerator.
|DO NOT dispose of pharmaceuticals down a
drain or toilet.
|DO NOT burn household waste containing
|Place needles, syringes, lancets, and other
sharp objects in a hard plastic or metal
container with a tightly secured lid.
|Before discarding the container, make sure
to reinforce the lid with heavy-duty tape.
|DO NOT use clear plastic or glass containers.
|Soiled bandages, disposable sheets, and
medical gloves should be placed in
securely fashioned plastic bags before you
put them in the garbage can with the
|NEVER pour chemotherapy medications
down the drain or onto the ground. These
medications can be toxic to wildlife and to
the bacteria needed to maintain your
septic system. Instead, ask your physician
about a way to dispose of these
medications that is environmentally safe.
|Take unused, unneeded, or expired
prescription drugs out of their original
containers and throw them in the trash.
|Mixing prescription drugs with an
undesirable substance, such as used coffee
grounds or kitty litter, and putting them in
impermeable, non-descript containers,
such as empty cans or sealable bags will
further ensure the drugs are not diverted.
|Take advantage of community
pharmaceutical take-back programs that
allow the public to bring unused drugs to
a central location for proper disposal.
Some communities have pharmaceutical
take-back programs or community solidwaste
programs that allow the public to
bring unused drugs to a central location
for proper disposal. Where these exist,
they are a good way to dispose of unused