Sadly, too many people flush or pour leftover medications down the drain. Even trace amounts of these drugs can disrupt the balance of life in our lakes, rivers and streams. Scientific studies have found that even extremely diluted concentrations of pharmaceutical residues can cause harm to fish, frogs and other aquatic species in the wild. Related research reports that human cells fail to grow normally in the lab when exposed to trace concentrations of certain drugs, raising concerns about the long-term impacts on human health. (see http://www.epa.gov/ppcp/)
Lacking a safe method to dispose of medications, many people leave them sitting in the medicine cabinet – out of sight, out of mind. At our fifth drug take-back event in Fall 2012, we received prescription medication dating from 1960 – 52 years waiting for a solution! The problem with holding on to medications is the potential for them to find their way out of our homes and onto our streets, making our neighborhoods unsafe.
So what can be done? Can we take steps to address and reduce the harmful impacts of these medications on our waterways, our streets, our homes, and our community?
The life cycle of medication should end with proper disposal. We need individual support in changing behavior and organizational support in changing policies. With your help, and through awareness, education, and take-back events, we can keep our neighborhoods and environment safe from the dangers of prescription and over-the-counter medications.