Pat Quinn, Governor
Disposal of Unwanted or Unused Pharmaceuticals Fact Sheet
Disposal of unused or unwanted pharmaceuticals is an emerging and complex environmental issue. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is working with various stakeholders to find convenient and environmentally responsible ways for residents to manage waste pharmaceuticals.
Waste pharmaceuticals include a wide variety of items, including over-the-counter and prescription medications. These wastes come in the form of solid pills and capsules, creams, liquids and aerosols. Many pharmaceuticals intended for pets are similar or identical to those prescribed to humans and should be treated exactly the same.
Recent United States Geological Survey studies have found traces of painkillers, estrogen, antidepressants, blood-pressure medicines, etc. in water samples from 30 states. Studies have linked hormone exposure to reproductive defects in fish, and environmental exposure to antibiotics to the development of drug-resistant germs.
The age-old advice of flushing pharmaceuticals down the toilet is now considered to be the least desirable of all alternatives. For many years many households and businesses have gotten into the habit of flushing waste pharmaceuticals down the toilet or pouring them down the drain because it is low cost and appears to be the simplest way to prevent unintended use or other diversion. However, wastewater treatment plants and septic systems are generally not designed to treat pharmaceutical waste. So don't flush your waste drugs!
Residents are advised to save all old or unwanted medications for an Illinois EPA-sponsored household hazardous waste collection. In addition, the Illinois EPA is partnering with many counties to sponsor dedicated collections for old/unwanted pharmaceuticals.
Illinois EPA Recommended Handling/Disposal Options for Households
|Copyright © 1996-2011 Illinois EPA||Agency Site Map | Privacy Information | Kids Privacy | Web Accessibility | Agency Webmaster|