Flushing medicine down the sink or toilet may be bad for the environment. Throwing it way with the trash may cause less pollution, but there is a risk that other people or animals may find it. Privacy may also be a concern if containers have labels with names and other personal information.
The following steps can be taken to more safely dispose of unused and expired medication:
· Keep medications in the containers they came in with child-resistant lids firmly in place.
· Remove labels before discarding the medication or use a permanent marker to cover any personal information on labels.
· If throwing away liquids, place the liquids in a plastic bag that can be sealed in case of leaks. Wrap glass bottles to prevent breakage.
· Mix medication with things like coffee grounds so people will be less likely to take them.
· Add a small amount of water to pills or capsules to at least partly dissolve them.
· Put the medication inside a package such as a box that doesn’t show what’s inside.
· Put the medication in the trash as close to pick up time as possible – do not put in recycling bins.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Office of Sustainable Practices has a program providing guidance and assistance to local governments related to the proper management of unwanted/expired medications. The web page can be found at www.tn.gov/environment/ea/unwantedrx/
Vanderbilt School of Nursing has a disposal program for prescription medicines. For more information, please visit their website:http://www.vanderbilt.edu/vanderbiltnurse/2011/10/raiding-the-medicine-cabinet/
Below is a link to a video from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy illustrating a correct way to dispose of medications: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/drugfact/disposal.mov.