PEPIN COUNTY RECYCLING / SOLID WASTE DEPARTMENT 704 7th Avenue W, Durand, WI 54736 How to Dispose of Unused Medicines Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are increasing, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. In addition, many Americans do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medicines, often flushing them down the toilet, a potential environmental hazard. Most people throw their unused medicines in the garbage or flush them down the toilet; but there is a problem with disposing of medication this way. These medicinal compounds filter into the groundwater and end up in our lakes and streams. The US Geological Survey studied water from 139 streams in 30 states and found that 80% contained traces of pharmaceuticals. The main way drug residues enter water systems is by people taking medicines and then naturally passing them through their bodies. Pepin County & Pierce County provides a free disposal of unwanted medications during the Clean Sweep event usually held in the spring. For more information contact the Pepin County Recycling/Solid Waste Office at 715-672-5709. The Pepin County Sheriffs Department will accept unused medicine for disposal at their facility any time of the day or week in the dispatch center with the exception of sharp syringes. Guidelines for Drug Disposal FDA and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy developed federal guidelines that are summarized here: Follow any specific disposal instructions on the prescription drug labeling or patient information that accompanies the medicine. Do not flush medicines down the sink or toilet unless this information specifically instructs you to do so. If no disposal instructions are given on the prescription drug labeling and no take-back program is available in your area, throw the drugs in the household trash following these steps. 1. Remove them from their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter (this makes the drug less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through the trash seeking drugs). 2. Place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty can, or other container to prevent the drug from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag. * Never burn pharmaceuticals or personal care products in a burn barrel. Uncontrolled burning can create dioxins and other air pollutants. * Do not put sharps in the trash! Syringes, lancets and other sharp medical items should be taken to a sharps collection station. * Before throwing out a medicine container, scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. This will help protect your identity and the privacy of your personal health information. * Do not give your medicine to friends. Doctors prescribe medicines based on a person's specific symptoms and medical history. A medicine that works for you could be dangerous for someone else. * When in doubt about proper disposal, talk to your pharmacist.
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