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Proper prescription drug disposal

Periodically, we all have medications that we need to destroy.

Is the right approach to drug disposal to dump it down your sink? Flush it down the toilet? No, these are not the correct way to rid yourself of drugs—whether they are prescription or over-the-counter.

Incorrectly disposing of medication can cause water pollution. Drinking water may be adversely impacted. As well as humans, fish and other aquatic wildlife may be injured. Flushing medications also can be damaging to septic systems.

Throwing your medication into your household trash is actually the suggested route to go. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recommends the citizens modify medications being disposed of, to discourage consumption.

“• For solid medications: such as pills or capsules: add a small amount of water to at least partially dissolve them.
• For liquid medications: add enough table salt, flour, charcoal, or nontoxic powdered spice, such as turmeric or mustard to make a pungent, unsightly mixture that discourages anyone from eating it.
• For blister packs: wrap the blister packages containing pills in multiple layers of duct or other opaque tape.”

Personal information, such as your name and address, and the prescription number should be marked out completely with a permanent black marker. If this is not possible, use duct tape to obscure your name and address, et al.

DEP says, “In CT, most of our trash is burned at Resource Recovery Facilities at very high temperatures that destroy these products. By following the disposal instructions, you will protect your privacy, discourage unintended consumption of the drugs and protect our water.”

Medications cannot be brought to Household Hazardous Waste collections in Connecticut.

However, the ideal way to get rid of your old medication is through the special collections held around Connecticut. Towns or pharmacies occasionally hold these for this purpose alone.

One of these special collections is being held for residents living in central Connecticut on April 24th from 10a.m. until 2p.m. at the Regional School District 17 Central Office at 57 Little City Road in Higganum. Any medications brought to this collection point should be kept in its original container with personal information appropriately obscured as described above--leaving the name of the drug visible and legible.

Certain items—such as medical waste, sharps and needles, and mercury thermometers—will not be accepted. The special collection also will not allow people to dispose of illegal drugs or related drug paraphernalia. Police officers will be on site.

DEP also urges citizens to remember to appropriately dispose of pet medication as well.

For more information about the safe way to dispose of medication, go to the DEP website at and click on the imbedded links for answers to specific questions.



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