Every day in California, unwanted or expired medicine is disposed of down the toilet. This was once recommended practice to protect children and pets from accidental poisonings, but now we know that pharmaceuticals can pass through wastewater treatment facilities into creeks, rivers, bays and oceans. In 2002, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that there were pharmaceutical compounds in 80% of tested waterways.
Of Special Concern
Pharmaceutical products in waterways skews gender ratios of fish and causes intersex characteristics to develop (where male fish display female traits). With drug sales doubling in the last five years—outpacing population growth—pharmaceutical waste has emerged as an important environmental and safety issue. http://articles.latimes.com/2005/nov/14/local/me-fish14 and http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2006/3131/.
While some pharmaceuticals enter the environment via normal human excretion, much is via direct disposal like flushing down the toilet or pouring down the drain. *Kaiser Family Foundation, Oct. 2004. Pharmaceuticals cannot currently be removed from wastewater treatment plants without costly system modifications so preventing these compounds from entering the wastewater system is vital to the continued good health of our waterways.
Dispose of unwanted medications--both prescription and over-the-counter medications--by taking them to the Western Placer Waste Management Authority’s HHW Facility. Leave labels on all containers but “black out” any personal information. Controlled substances cannot be taken to WPWMA. These must be taken to a Medication Take Back Event. Follow us on Twitter or FB to receive announcements of Take Back events.