Medicine disposal is becoming a crisis earlier than many expected, and one place that is feeling the brunt of it is fresh water. Almost every time that we flush medicine down the drain due to an expiration date, it ends up in lakes and streams, not only affecting our fish neighbors but also our own drinking water. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, medications that include “endocrine disrupting compounds” even affect the ability of fish and frogs to develop and reproduce. Flushing away antibiotics, though, presents an even larger issue. Antibiotics, which end up in the ground water, contribute to antibiotic resistance or superbugs, a phenomena where bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics. This phenomena is projected to kill more people than cancer will by 2050. So how can we fix this crisis? First, go read my post entitled “Drug Storage” to find out how you can maintain the efficacy of drugs. Once the drug has officially expired, it should be disposed of at drug take back sites.
Here are some of the major sites according to Dr. Christina Madison:
- Substation for your metropolitan police department
- Local Pharmacy
- A Drug Enforcement Agency(DEA) “Take Back Event”(4 times a year)
- Needle Exchange Program (for Syringes)
You can also get rid of the medication at home by mixing the pills or liquid(not eye drops or topical cream) in a plastic bag with kitty litter or coffee grounds and throwing that all away. Eventually, this will not only protect the environment, but yourself. With so many easy disposal methods, you now know exactly how to handle your expired medication. And as always, I encourage you to spread the word to your friends and family!