10 February 2010


This is not the "if it's yellow, let it mellow" post. This is for anyone who intends to live on this planet: DO NOT FLUSH MEDICATIONS.

[find a bio-hazard disposal option - your doctor or dentist can help]

"Long-term exposure to low levels of antibiotics might result in the evolution of, or selection for, drug-resistant microbes and bacteria."
Donflushdrugs.org is a bit vague there, but if you want a bit more of an intimidating read, check out this article. Basically flushing meds just means that the diluted stuff comes right back out of your tap. And we're not sure what that means in the long run, but it really doesn't seem like a good thing.

I've searched all the fun terms: unused prescription, how to get rid of prescription drugs, can I flush medications, etc.

Obviously the last one was a bit of a lure for this post; by the time I searched that, I'd tried returning the stuff to the pharmacy. And for those of you who know me well enough to know that I've taken 2 Dramamine tablets to go on a pelagic, you're probably confused. When the wisdom teeth came out, it was very strongly insisted that I fill the prescription even if I didn't use it. That said, I had an unopened generic Vicodin type prescription within easy reach of myself and in-laws and small children and a puppy. So I wanted them gone.

Here's what the pharmacy said: sorry, we can't take them back because we have to keep records of what goes out and there's no allowance for anything to come back. And we have no means of disposal for it, since the suppliers won't take unused portions back.

Here's what the pharmacy suggested:
Mix with kitty litter or coffee grounds and throw away (still leaches)
Flush it ...oh HELL no. No flushing!
Ask the dentist

Knowing the amount of @#$%^&* that ends up in our watersheds because of drains in parking lots, I didn't want to risk throwing away. Nor did I want to flush the stuff. And since I have no black market connections nor friends with impending surgeries nor local "med drives" (they seem to be illegal in Texas) to donate unexpired meds to those who can't afford them... well, I'm glad the dentist called me back.

When I called to ask whether or not the dentist could dispose of my meds, the answer came back 6 hrs later with "sure, we have a bio hazard container!"

Yes, if you flush your meds, you're flushing BIO-HAZARDS. Yay. And we all know that water treatment plants are good at making water not-brown, but we also have occasional boil notices (boiling doesn't remove meds, fyi), and we also know that certain municipalities *coughallofTexas* can hardly get the smell of upstream dairies out... Anyway, if you think bottled water gets you off the hook for meds in your water, a huge chunk of bottled water is tap regardless!

Whew, this wasn't meant to be a rant, just a note to say that burning the stuff would have been fun, and I'm sure the bio hazards get incinerated at some point. There's probably some fun off-gassing and whatnot, but at least I know it's not oozing around a landfill somewhere. Nor in my pasta boiling water.

So, the bottom line? DO NOT FLUSH MEDICATIONS. Amphibians - and the rest of us - will thank you for it.

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