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C2005-44

Dear Christopher Cat

I have some leftover expired drugs. Should I flush them down the toilet or throw them in the trash?

Christopher Responds

Don’t flush them down the toilet. Sewage treatment plants are not designed to remove drugs from water, so they end up in our streams and drinking water.

In a 2002 study of 139 waterways in 30 states, researchers found that 89 percent of waterways were polluted by steroids, 81 percent by nonprescription drugs, and 48 percent by antibiotics.

My cat friends who still live in the wild don’t want to ingest those drugs in their drinking water, and neither should you.

While flushing unused drugs down the toilet poisons the environment, throwing them in the trash is almost as dangerous, because animals, children and drug abusers might get them.

The best way to dispose of leftover drugs is to take them to your pharmacy.

Pharmacies dispose of unused medications through a reverse distribution company that returns selected drugs to the manufacturers and incinerates the rest.

If your pharmacy won’t accept them, take them to a hazardous waste collection site.

If they refuse to accept them, then throw them in the trash.

To decrease the risk that an animal or child might get into them, place pills in childproof containers and seal glass bottles in plastic bags.

To be extra careful, add a nontoxic but unpalatable spice, such as cayenne pepper. Or mix the drugs with clumping cat litter and water.

Then put the containers in an opaque trash bag inside the garbage can as close to pickup time as possible.

 

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