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Mae Wu’s Blog

Dispose of Your Pharmaceuticals - April 27, 2013

Mae Wu

Posted April 18, 2013 in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment

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Drugs

As part of the spring cleaning ritual, do you dump a bunch of unused and expired pharmaceuticals into a bag and leave them on an empty shelf and wonder what to do with them? 

Well, if you're like me, then huzzah for the DEA, because on April 27, 2013, the DEA is holding a national take-back initiative to collect unused and expired pharmaceuticals. 

The link will give you a list of locations close to you where you can drop off your unused and expired pharmaceuticals and be sure that they are disposed of properly. That includes those old, sticky bottles of cough medicine and ten year old prescription drugs and everything else cluttering up the medicine cabinet.

Why is this important? As I've written before, when we throw unused or expired pharmaceuticals in the trash or flush them down the toilet or sink, we are basically ensuring that these very drugs end up in our drinking water. We are concerned about the potential health and environmental effects associated with drinking small doses of all the pharmaceuticals we are pouring into our rivers, lakes, and streams.

In our report on this issue, we concluded that the paths forward are complicated and require extensive changes to the way these drugs are designed, produced, and regulated.

But there is one helpful thing that you can do is to keep the drugs out of the environment in the first place. Take-back programs collect unused and expired pharmaceuticals and ensure they are disposed of properly - in ways that minimize the impact on our drinking water sources. For people who lives in areas that have permanent take-back facilities, that is an easy task. For the rest of us, the DEA has stepped up. 

So join me in getting rid of that bag of pharmaceuticals. It's an easy step that we all can do to help protect our waters.

For more information, check out our factsheet.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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