If you are like most people, you have prescription drugs and other medicines you or your family no longer need in your medicine cabinet or other locations in your home. In the past, it was recommended to flush these medications down the toilet or sink. We now know that drugs that are disposed by flushing can enter the environment because sewage treatment plants and septic systems are not designed to remove them1. Also, scientific research suggests that certain drugs may cause harm to fish and other aquatic life2.Luckily, scientists have no evidence that medications in the environment harm human health.3
Please take the time to safely dispose of your medications: Prevent Abuse, Poisoning and Pollution.
Prescription, or over the
counter medications, should NOT be flushed down the toilet or poured down a
sink. Protecting the environment is one good reason to properly dispose of your
medications. However, there are other very important reasons to consider:
Proper Disposal Guidelines for Utah Households*: Please take your medications to a permanent collection site or a special community take-back event
Currently, there are limited legal options for safe medication disposal because of complex laws. Some medications are hazardous and some are controlled substances. Disposal programs must comply with state and federal solid and hazardous waste regulations as well as the Controlled Substance Act.
The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) developed the Proper Medication Disposal Program to provide Utah households a safe and legal alternative to flushing medications. The program provided grants to law enforcement agencies to install permanent medication collection bins in the lobby of their buildings to collect unused over-the-counter and prescription medications from Utah households. The program also funded community medication take-back events called “Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet.”As required by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), both options require law enforcement personnel be present to collect, store and ultimately incinerate the medications.
*This program cannot accept medications from doctor or veterinarian offices or clinics, long term care facilities, hospitals, or other medical facilities. These facilities should contact a DEA licensed reverse distributor for disposal.
Take your unused medications to one of the permanent collection sites located in the lobby of law enforcement agencies. Currently there are 58 permanent bins in 15 counties. Each location contains a locked, mounted steel collection bin in the lobby. Prescriptions are dropped off anonymously--identification is not required. Bins are emptied by a Law Enforcement Officers and ultimately incinerated at DEQ permitted facilities. This community service is provided by the police or sheriff department free of charge and confidentiality of all participants is ensured. Click here to find a site.
DEQ sponsors “Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet” events each April and October in partnership with the Utah Poison Control Center and many other local partners. However, many community organizations also sponsor medication take back events including cities, substance abuse prevention and recycling coalitions, local health departments, medical clinics, water utilities, health fairs and many others.The only requirement to host a take-back is that it must be in partnership with a law enforcement agency that has approval from the DEA. Click here to see a listing of events and to learn how to organize and conduct your own “Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet” event.
Taking your unused medications to a permanent collection site or community event is the preferred method of safe disposal to protect the environment.However, if you cannot find a convenient location you can dispose of your medications in your household trash by followingthese guidelines outlined by the SMARXT DISPOSAL campaign created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the American Pharmacists Association, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America to educate consumers about how to dispose of medicines in a safe manner.