cuyahoga

cleveland
department
public
health
ohio
Environment

How to Dispose of Medication Safely
Keeping old medication in your house can be dangerous. Old prescriptions can cause confusion and can be harmful if they get in the wrong hands. Medicines are a major source of poisoning in children.

Expired medications should be thrown away. But they must be disposed of safely and carefully.

Don't flush outdated medicines down the toilet or sink!
Increasingly, prescription and non-prescription medications, many of which are not effectively destroyed by sewage treatment plants, are finding their way into streams and drinking water supplies. A study conducted four years ago by the United States Geological Survey found that 80 percent of 139 streams sampled across 30 states detected very low concentrations of chemicals commonly found in prescription drugs.

NOTE: The FDA still advises that a small number of prescription medications still be flushed down the toilet if expired or unused. For a full list of these drugs, click here .

Wrap and trash old meds!
Remember, don't flush - "wrap and trash" instead! Here's how:

  1. Make the medicine unusable. Crush or dissolve pills with a small amount of water. Absorb liquid medication with flour, table salt, or another non-toxic substance.
    Note: The Office of National Drug Control Policy advises removing the medication from its original container. Some "wrap and trash" campaigns suggest keeping the medication in its original container but blacking out all personal information and disguising the container when wrapping it. The goal of either method is to make the medicine unusable and unrecognizable.

  2. WRAP! Wrap blister packs in layers of strong tape. Secure packaging with strong tape. Use several layers of tape and plastic bags to securely seal the package.

  3. Place the package inside a non-transparent container. An empty yogurt or margarine container works best.

  4. TRASH!Place the container in with your household trash.

Additional resources about how to get rid of old, expired medications: