Lots of people think the way to dispose of unwanted meds is to flush them down the toilet, but when you flush those meds down the toilet you are giving them a gateway into our water system. You need to take unwanted medicine to a collection site because wastewater treatment plants were not designed to remove pharmaceutical substances from wastewater. 

Many towns around the Great Lakes area are participating in the EPA Great Lakes Earth Day Challenge: Collect 1 million pounds of electronic waste or “e-waste” and collect 1 million pills during Earth Month to keep contaminants out of the water.

Today I will focus on prescription drug disposal issue.

You may want to get rid or your medication  for any number of reasons. It may be expired or a prescription was changed. Just remember NEVER quit your meds cold turkey. You need to have a planned withdrawal. If you are now on a med and want to get off, do NOT dispose of it. If you experience severe withdrawl symptoms you will need that med to ease your pain. If you need more information about withdrawal please visit the Discover and Recover blog

Water is one of our greatest natural assets. It is time to get out of the habit of flushing unwanted pills. The responsible thing to do with unwanted medications is to bring it to a collection site. 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found  trace amounts of pharmaceuticals are turning up in America’s drinking water and the Great Lakes because most treatment plants are not designed to filter out these medications.

When pills or liquid medicines are poured down the sink or flushed down the toilet they remain diluted in the water supply after treatment and these trace amounts are suspected of causing a range of health problems, according to the EPA.

As leftover and waste pharmaceuticals get flushed down drains, research is showing that they are increasingly being detected in our lakes and rivers at levels that could be causing harm to the environment and ecosystem. Reproductive and development problems in aquatic species, hormonal disruption and antibiotic resistance are some concerns associated with pharmaceuticals in our wastewater.

If you live in one of the Great Lakes states, here is a link to lead you to an pill disposal site

California sites

(At this time it seems that the Great Lakes states have made this more of a priority than the others states have. Tomorrow I will post on how to properly dispose of prescirption meds from you own home. If you know of a disposal site near you or outside of the Great Lakes states, please email me or leave a comment.)

In most areas you will be asked to bring prescription or over-the-counter medication in its original container with all information about the medication visible to assist with sorting. Names and addresses may be covered or scratched out. Remember, keep medications out of reach of children while waiting for and transporting material to the event. Keep needles or other medical sharps separate and packaged in rigid containers such as laundry detergent or soda bottles for safe disposal.

Many sites can only accept medication during special events due to US drug laws. Some sites even employ pharmacists and law enforcement officers for the special event to ensure safe and proper sorting and disposal of all medications.  Read more here

Read more about medicine disposal in Examiner.com

EPA and Earth911 have established a clearinghouse of collection events throughout the Great Lakes basin. It provides details about 23 collection events in the greater Chicago metropolitan area and northern Illinois. To find out about collection events, go to the Great Lakes Earth Day Challenge Web site 

Also, anyone can go to EPA’s blog and share ideas