Recent studies have shown that prescription medications are beginning to show up in low levels in streams and treated drinking water across the country. U.S. EPA studies have identified over 100 individual pharmaceuticals and personal care products in environmental samples and drinking water. Additionally, a study conducted by the Associated Press in 2007-2008 detected drugs in the drinking supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas.
One way in which prescription drugs enter rivers and streams, and ultimately public water supplies, is through the improper disposal of unused medications. When these are dumped down the drain, they are transported to local sewage treatment plants which are generally not engineered to remove drug residues. As a result, the drugs may pass through the treatment system and into streams and rivers that serve as a source of public drinking water. Likewise, water treatment plants are not designed to remove these types of contaminants, so the possibility exists for the drugs to be present in our drinking water.
Unless otherwise directed, it is best not to flush unused medications or pour them down the sink or drain. There are a number of permanent drop off boxes where you can safely dispose of unused and unwanted prescription medications in the Greater Cincinnati area. Simply visit http://rxdrugdropbox.org/ and enter your location information. New locations are being added all the time, so check back if you can’t find a drop off near you.
If you are unable to utilize a drop-off box, they best way to get rid of unused prescription drugs is to throw them in the trash. To protect children and pets, place the unwanted medication in a sealable bag. Adding kitty litter, coffee grounds or sawdust makes it less appealing to both children and pets to eat. Before throwing it away, be sure to remove all identifying personal information from the containers.