Friday, May 20, 2011

Proper Disposal of Medications

You take your own bags to the grocery, you use your reusable water bottle and coffee cup, you garden and compost, you ride your bike or walk, and you recycle. You do your part in a variety of ways to conserve our resources. You wouldn’t dare toss or dump anything into the street drain or local river, stream, or lake. But have you ever thought about what the best way to dispose of your over-the-counter and prescription medicines. Throw them away or flush them? That is the proper disposal, right? In recent years, it has been brought to the forefront that excess drugs being disposed on in these manners may be creating issues in our waterways. While our wastewater is all treated and sent down stream and then treated again to become potable water again, our treatment methods do not focus in on these types of chemicals that come from our medicine cabinet. The landfill is also not the best destination for medications because the medications can end up in the leachate of landfills which is dealt with in a variety of ways, one of which is to send it through the local wastewater treatment plant, which does not typically remove chemicals found in medications.
Various concentrations of different drugs are being found in our water ways. Some of this is due to the natural processing and disposal method which our bodies utilize these medicines and some of it may be due to the direct disposal of unused medication through flushing down toilets or sinks and into our municipal water ways. Evidence of adverse affects of these chemicals is being observed in fish, mollusks, and other aquatic life in our freshwaters within our borders and in the oceans surrounding the countries. This has led to in depth studies of the affects of medicines on wildlife. While the amounts of medicines being found in waterways is considered to be a small amount, it has been enough to already warrant concern in the observed affects in aquatic life. If there is exposure to the frogs, fish, and other animals living in the water, it will eventually make its way into our drinking water and food chain. This leads to humans ending up with medicines in our systems that were not prescribed.
The other issue to consider is the “cocktail” of medicines along with other chemicals that are finding their way to our soil and water ways. There are thousands of possible combinations of chemicals and drugs being disposed of daily. Scientists do not know the affect of these “chemical cocktails” on wildlife or humans.
Proper disposal of unused medications also keeps them out of the hands of curious teenagers. Pharmaceutical drug use is growing among teens in the United States. In a survey by the Partnership for a Drug Free America conducted in 2005, 19% of teens had taken a prescription medication to get high. Unused drugs in medicine cabinets are easy to get and some even fetch a pretty penny on the street.
The great news is that there are ways for you to easily and properly dispose of you unwanted medicines and prevent them from being part of the problem!
Check in your community for a Drug Take Back Program. Make sure that the programs is one that sends the drugs away for proper disposal. Most programs send drugs to be incinerated. Pharmacies that have Drug Take Back programs do not take back narcotic or controlled substances such as many pain medications etc. These can be taken back to your local police or law enforcement office.
Phillips Drugs in Richmond takes back unused medication at all of their locations and properly sends them away to be properly disposed. They also are not able to take controlled substances at this time. Again, Richmond Police Department is equipped to take back controlled substances, such as narcotic pain medications, etc. In April of this year, Phillips Drugs and the Richmond Police Department partnered to host a Drug Take Back Event. The Event brought in 993 pounds of medications including controlled substances. That is a large amount of medications that are no longer available to teenagers or that will have the potential to wind up in our delicate waterways.
Phillips Drugs accepts unused medications at all three locations in Richmond
1626 East Main, Richmond
631 East Main Street, Richmond
1390 National Rd West, Richmond
You may also contact them at 765-966-5544 or via email