Friday, August 27, 2010

Pharmaceuticals in the Environment NATIONAL DRUG TAKE BACK PROGRAM - Get Rid of Prescriptions the Correct Way - Protect the Watershed

Please be aware that the federal DEA is conducting a NATIONAL DRUG TAKE BACK PROGRAM on September 25, 2010 with widespread participation by many law enforcement groups across the country and in Pennsylvania. This effort will help keep meds from being flushed into water resources. The program is an anonymous take back. To find a take back location in your area, go to this website and enter your zipcode:

Drug take back programs are very expensive to conduct, so please let your neighbors and family members know about this one day national event.  Saturday, September 25, 2010.

On September 25, 2010, DEA will coordinate a collaborative effort with state and local law enforcement agencies to remove potentially dangerous controlled substances from our nation’s medicine cabinets. Collection activities will take place from 10:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. at sites established throughout the country. The National Take-Back Day provides an opportunity for the public to surrender expired, unwanted, or unused pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications for destruction. These drugs are a potential source of supply for illegal use and an unacceptable risk to public health and safety. This one-day effort is intended to bring national focus to the issue of increasing pharmaceutical controlled substance abuse. The program is anonymous.

Prescription and over the counter solid dosage medications, i.e. tablets and capsules accepted. Intra-venous solutions, injectables, and needles will not be accepted. Illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine are not a part of this initiative.

If you miss this event- this is the proper procedure to dispose of prescription drugs:

1.Do not flush prescription drugs down the toilet or drain unless the label or
accompanying patient information specifically instucts you to do so.  For information on drugs
that should be flushed visit the FDA’s website-

2. To dispose of prescription drugs not labeled to be flushed, you may be able
to take advantage of community drug take back programs or other programs,
such as household hazardous waste collection events,  that collect drugs at a central location for proper disposal.

3.Call your city or county government’s household trash and recycling service
and ask if a drug take‐back program is available in your community.

If a drug take‐back or collection program is not available:

A.Take your prescription drugs out of their original containers.

B.Mix drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.

C.Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty
margarine tub, or into a sealable bag.

D.Conceal or remove any personal information, including Rx number, on the
empty containers by covering it with black permanent marker or duct tape, or
by scratching it off.
E.Place the sealed container with the mixture, and the empty drug containers, in the trash.

 How to Dispose


  1. If you crush the pills first, you can put the powder with cat litter and get rid of it the way you get rid of your cat litter.

    One thing bothers me about the procedure as outlined. It keeps the pills out of the water system directly, but puts them into a landfill, where the drugs are still available to be leached into the environment.

    Has anyone done any testing to determine if typical drugs break down in an on site septic system or in a municipal treatment facility? I am not much of an environmental alarmist, but it seems to me like the risk just isn't there.

  2. In general, the best approach is a community "take back" program and also getting Doctors to write out only getting prescriptions we really need and doctors tell patients how to properly dispose.

    It is likely that a land-based treatment system and some can be flushed down the toilet - something that uses a soil to remediate would help break-down many prescriptions.