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Safe Disposal of Unwanted Medication Doesn't Involve the Toilet

October 26, 2018

This Saturday, October 27, from 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M., the public is encouraged to safely dispose of unwanted or expired medications at more than 50 locations in the District, and Virginia and Maryland suburbs. Residents can bring any quantity and type of unused medication to drop-off points and safely dispose of them in minutes.

“Flushing old medications down the toilet really isn’t a good idea,” says David L. Gadis, CEO and General Manager of DC Water. “It can contaminate our rivers with trace pharmaceuticals and other substances that affect water quality and life under the surface. We all share the responsibility to keep our community and waterways safe, and clearing out our medicine cabinets responsibly is an easy way to do that.”

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a nationwide event backed by law enforcement agencies, water utilities and health officials. Proper medication disposal prevents water pollution, accidental ingestion, drug abuse, and keeps communities safe. The service is free and anonymous.

To find the nearest disposal site, visit https://takebackday.dea.gov/.

For those who can’t make it to the take-back locations this Saturday, a list of permanent, secure disposal locations in the region is posted at https://protectyourpipes.org/medications/.

Alternatively, residents can safely discard unwanted medication at home with these easy instructions:

  1. Take your prescription drugs out of their original containers.
  2. Mix drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds.
  3. Put mixture into a disposable container that can be sealed, like a plastic bag, and toss in the trash.
  4. Conceal or remove any personal information on empty containers, including Rx number, by covering it with permanent marker or by scratching it off.