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Home Learn More Hazards Around Your Home Household Medical Wastes Unwanted Medicines
Unwanted Medicines PDF Print E-mail

For years many believed that the best way to dispose of old, unwanted medicines was to flush them down the toilet.  Research is now showing that trace amounts of those same drugs are detectable in our fresh water sources (creeks, rivers, lakes and reservoirs).  The processes used to treat the wastewater generated at our homes and businesses are not capable of removing some of the chemicals used to manufacture today’s pharmaceuticals.

Stockpiles of unwanted medicines pose other threats as well.  Medications are the most common poison exposure category in the United States and the unsecured storage or disposal of drugs is a significant source of accidental poisonings.  Additionally, senior citizens routinely become confused or self-prescribe medicines when many years of old, outdated medications remain in their homes. 

Another alarming and dangerous ramification of stockpiling medications deals with criminals breaking into homes and diverting drugs to sell or abuse themselves.  In such cases, homeowner or occupants can easily become victims of violent crime.

A number of unwanted medicines disposal options exist.  Many of Indiana’s solid waste management districts offer ongoing or periodic collection events for residents.  Contact your local solid waste district for information about programs in your community.  If a collection program is not offered in your area, instead of flushing unwanted medications or washing them down a drain, you are encouraged to render the medicines unpalatable (crush pills and mix with coffee grounds, absorb liquid medicines in cat litter, etc.) and hide the medicines in your household trash.  Sending these medicines to a landfill for disposal is a much better option than introducing them to our water system.

 

Click here for more information from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management about the proper disposal of unwanted medicines.

 

Click here to view a guide entitled, "Collecting Unwanted Medicines" developed by the Indiana Unwanted Medicines Task Force.

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 May 2011 11:24