March 11, 2008
Disposal of Unwanted Medications at Home
Erik N. Steele, D.O.
Never flush expired or unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medications down the toilet or drain. Although flushing prevents accidental ingestion or misuse it causes contamination of Maine’s aquatic environment. Wastewater treatment plants are not designed to remove medications.
If your community burns its trash-dispose of all Rx in the trash!
- Keep the medicines in their original containers. This will help identify the contents if they are accidentally swallowed.
- Black out your name and prescription number for safety.
- For pills; add some water or soda to dissolve them. For liquids; add something inedible like cat litter, dirt, coffee grounds or pepper.
- Close the lid and secure with tape.
- Place the bottle(s) inside an opaque (non-see-through) container like a coffee can or plastic bottle.
- Tape that container closed.
- Hide the container in the trash. Do not put in the recycle bin.
80% of Maine communities burn their trash. The temperature of Maine’s three waste to energy incineration plants is high enough to break down medicines and personal care products and render them harmless.
If your community does not burn its trash-do not dispose of any Rx in trash!
Talk to your pharmacist, doctor, police department or state legislator about how to dispose of unused Rx. Inquire about the return by mail program organized by the Maine Center for Aging at www.mainecenteronaging.org. New recommendations will be forthcoming from the State in 2008 for people who live in communities that do not burn their trash.