You’ve probably heard that you shouldn’t flush old medicine down your toilet or drain—but why is that? Our team breaks down all the info and explains how you should safely dispose of old pills.
Can I flush old medicine?
Technically, yes, you can flush old medicine. The FDA has a list of flush-approved medications. These medicines contain active ingredients with a higher abuse rate and could cause death if taken inappropriately—the FDA suggests flushing the drugs to keep them away from anyone who could abuse them purposefully or accidentally. The problem with flushing old medication, however, lies in the environmental impact.
Negative Environmental Impact
The FDA admits that more research is needed to prove whether flushing is a safe method to dispose of old medication. A recent study found that flushing your medication can contaminate lakes, streams, and other bodies of water and that this contamination can impact aquatic wildlife.
Hawai’i has an unusually high population of endemic species (species native to only one place in the world). In fact, over 25% of marine life found in our oceans are endemic to Hawai’i. Unfortunately, many of these species are endangered because of this. Flushing medication that impacts our water could cause major harm to the environment and wildlife of our island.
How to Properly Dispose of Old Medication
There are many ways to safely dispose of medicine without flushing it down your toilet. Seek out a permanent drug take back collection site near you or look up one of the many periodic drug take back events going on. These are safe ways to get medication out of your home and away from curious children or pets without the negative impacts of flushing pills down the toilet.
While the FDA may approve of flushing drugs in some instances, the environmental impact could cause irreparable harm to our diverse and one-of-a-kind environment. Play it safe and take old medication back to a drug take back site and protect your family and our home!