Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Think Green Thursday

Think Green Thursday is now being hosted by Michele, who also does a meme called Nature Notes at her wonderful blog called Rambling Woods.

I wonder how many of us are aware of the proper methods to dispose of our unused or outdated pharmaceuticals. You younger people do not usually have much occasion to worry about these things, unless you or someone in your family has a serious medical problem. It does serve us well, however, to look through the medicine cabinet every so often and get rid of outdated prescriptions. But those of us who are older find this a more serious problem.

I'm afraid that all too many of us tend to think first of flushing the pills down the toilet. Please don't do that! Doctors used to tell us to do it, but have since learned it is not the way to go. It can seriously pollute our water supply and endanger aquatic animals. And throwing pills into the trash can be a danger too. There are those unfortunate humans and animals who indulge in trash picking, who can be poisoned by what they find, or the ground itself can be poisoned.

The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy has given us guidelines to follow:

In some instances, the label may tell you it is alright to flush. But this is rare.

Ideally, your local pharmacy may have a take-back program, and will dispose of them for you. In other areas, the pharmacy may be reluctant to do this because they have to pay by volume for the municipality to pick up.

In some communities, there is a central location where you may bring them. Call your town hall or Department of Public Works to find out.

If you have a problem finding such a place for disposal, mix the pills in with something such as kitty litter or coffee grounds and seal them into a tightly closed can or impermeable bag that can be sealed. That way, no one is likely to reuse them. The plastic bottles can be recycled either through your municipality, or you can find many uses for them yourself.

If you have sharps - needles for insulin, etc. - make sure they are placed into a tightly sealed container and clearly marked "Sharps". Some hospitals also have recycle programs.

If you have any doubts about means of disposal, ask your pharmacist what to do. The main thing is - KNOW BEFORE YOU THROW

The reason that I started thinking about this subject is that I use a nitrolingual pumpspray for angina. When I have used it to the point that no more liquid will come out, there is always some liquid remaining - sometimes more than others. I have a couple of bottles sitting here, waiting for disposal, and I really had no idea what to do with them. In my case, I called the pharmacist at Walgreen's Drug Store, and was told they would be happy to take them back from me, so my problem is solved. I hope that everyone finds such an easy solution.


Kay said...

I remember a newspaper article in the Chicago Tribune a while ago citing the results of testing the water being flushed into the sewer system. It was incredible how polluted it was with medical chemicals. said...

great post Bobbie, I recently heard about this but didn't know the details thank you.

KG said...

I've been hearing a lot lately about how much pharmaceutical product is in our drinking water because people pour it down the sink. It grosses me out to think that I may be drinking somebody's expired insulin product. *shudder*

Daryl said...

Bobbie .. you are the best, this is an excellent reminder!

Deborah Godin said...

This is a very important post, lost of good info - thanks!!

Dianne said...

you ARE the best!

so many people just toss them, myself included until I learned better

amanda said...

Bobbie, super post!!!
My friend died from complications of Lupus and we had a small travel suitcase (no lie) and we took it to her GP because they have a service that picks up for them. Anyone can bring back to the Dr.