You may have adopted a recycling program for newspapers or plastics at your house, but what about old medicine that has expired or you don't need anymore?
For years, the public was told to flush away leftover drugs until some scientists argued that the practice could be sending drug remnants into bodies of water affecting the aquatic environment. Now, the federal government has released new prescription disposal guidelines that discourage flushing most drugs.
"The best thing is to remove an unneeded, unwanted or expired drug from the container and mix it in with trash." said George Gray, Ph.D. with the Environmental Protection Agency. He goes on to say "Very very low amount of pharmaceuticals have been found in some of our rivers, lakes and streams. It is important to note that there is no scientific evidence linking that low level of pharmaceuticals to any adverse effects in people."
The new guidelines instruct consumers to flush only the drugs that include a patient information section that says it is safe to do so. This however is not a law, only a guideline. Some even suggest mixing old medication with kitty litter or coffee grounds and then dispose of that in some air tight container.
Another tip from Harvard Medical School is to add water to pills and flour to liquids to prevent an accident with pets or children. But most agree if you're confused about what to do with a drug you want to dispose of ask your pharmacist.
To see federal guidelines on how to dispose of unwanted pharmaceuticals, click here.
To learn more about the effects of drugs and personal care products like shampoo, click here.