Many people like to flush unwanted medications down the toilet because it is commonly believed that doing so is a safe way to dispose of them. While flushing your medications may seem like a waste-free option for getting rid of them, this action can be very harmful to the environment and local water supply.
Can you flush pills down the toilet?
No, it is not recommended to flush pills down the toilet. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says you should never flush medications or drugs of any kind down the toilet unless they are specifically labeled as “flushable.”
It’s tempting to flush old or unwanted pills down the toilet in the belief that they will disappear harmlessly and do not pollute the environment. But experts have warned this is a bad idea, as many pills and tablets contain potentially harmful chemicals that could pollute rivers and seas and could damage wildlife such as fish.
Don’t flush your pills down the toilet – it can have a negative effect on the environment and put your own health at risk.
What should you do with old or unwanted pills?
The NHS advises people to put their used prescription medicines into a container, such as an empty clean pill packet, and take them to their nearest pharmacy. Alternatively, they can be flushed down the toilet into the sewer system, but only if they are not harmful to the environment.
Drinking water companies advise that they cannot filter out all waste products removed from sewage without severely damaging the quality of drinking water. So hardcore drugs – those containing heavy metals or corrosive chemicals – must be disposed of safely but not flushed down the toilet.
So what should you do if you have leftover pills? If you have medicine leftover from a recent prescription, consider taking it to your local pharmacy or doctor’s office so they can properly dispose of it. You can also take old drugs directly to a hazardous waste collection site (although there may be only one near you).
How to dispose of unused or expired Medicines?
If you have unused or expired medications, follow these steps to dispose of them:
- Place the medicines in a sealable container such as a pill bottle or film canister.
- Mix the pills with an undesirable substance such as cat litter or sawdust.
- Tie off the container securely so children and pets cannot open it.
- Put the container, pill bottles and all, into the trash.
- Ensure that children, pets, and wildlife cannot access your trash by keeping it in a locked trash can.
When you’re ready to dispose of your old or unused medication, you want to ensure that you’re getting rid of it in the safest manner possible.
Some medications are meant to be flushed down the toilet. However, there are some that should not be flushed down the toilet and others that should only be flushed if they are labeled as flushable or explicitly state they are flushable on their packaging.
For medications that shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet, you’ll need to dispose of them in other ways. Most pharmacies will accept them and offer disposal solutions. You can also contact the manufacturer for disposal instructions.