Dead goldfish and unwanted medications have a lot in common; they are generally disposed of by flushing them down the toilet. That still might work for the goldfish but recent studies have shown that disposing unwanted medication in this manner pose potential safety and health hazards. As waste water is treated a number of procedures are performed to make sure the water leaving the treatment facility is cleaned to certain standards. However, not all of the chemicals in drugs can be successfully removed by water treatment plants, ultimately making its way into our rivers and streams. Even at extremely low levels, perhaps hundreds or thousands of times lower than the therapeutic dosages, these chemicals can adversely affect aquatic organisms like fish and frogs.
Throwing them out with the trash might be OK if you take appropriate steps:
- Remove the patient’s name from the vial or bottle.
- If possible, make the remaining medication unusable. For example: crush pills or tablets or mix them with undesirable substances such as coffee grounds or kitty litter to make them less appealing to kids and pets.
The best way to dispose of unwanted medication is find a facility that can dispose of them properly. I spoke with Oakley Disposal; they tell people to take their unwanted medication to Delta Diablo Hazardous Waste Facility in Antioch.