Safely disposing of old medicines protects kids, pets and the environment

By • Published: March 21st, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

You probably have a few bottles of old medicine rattling around in your bathroom cabinet.

Want to get rid of them, but not sure how? It’s important to dispose of prescription and over-the-counter medications properly to prevent harm to the environment, pets and kids.

Tossing old medications straight into the garbage shouldn’t be your first choice. Pets or young kids with a mischievous streak could dig through the trash and find and ingest them.

And don’t forget about the environment. Dumping meds down the drain can lead to leakages into the water supply.

Instead, look for “drug take-back” programs in your community, where you can dispose of legal or illegal drugs. Check with your pharmacist or local government for information about these programs. If your community doesn’t have a program, you’ll probably have to settle for the trash can.

You can make pills less attractive and accessible to foragers by mixing them in a sealed plastic bag with something yucky — like kitty litter or used coffee grounds. Then, dispose of the bag in your trash can.

To help protect yourself from identity theft, use a dark marker to cover personal information on prescription labels before disposing of them in the garbage.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, some medicines are so dangerous when misused that it’s too risky to toss them in the garbage. Instead, pour them into the toilet or sink. A list of medicines this practice applies to is available on the FDA website.

Following these tips will help keep your family and the environment safe, and leave you with one less worry on your mind. Now that’s a prescription we all could use!