PHARMACEUTICALS: DON'T FLUSH! The age-old advice to flush pharmaceutical waste, such as prescription or over-the-counter medications in varying forms (pills, creams, liquids, aerosols), is currently considered to be the least desirable thing to do. Even though it is a low-cost option and prevents unintended use by others, flushing or pouring pharmaceutical waste down the drain has resulted in traces of painkillers, estrogen, etc. to be present in water samples in 30 states.
The best way to dispose of unwanted medicine is through a collection program. These programs include local collections offered by pharmacies and police departments, mail-back programs, and manufacturer-supported collections for specific medications.
The Illinois EPA website has a search tool to help you locate a pharmaceutical collection site near you
The Chicago Department of Public Health partners with the Chicago Police Department to provide locations to dispose of expired prescriptions and over the counter drugs. Locations can be found on the city's website here
Unwanted medicines should be delivered to the collection location in the original container, if possible. Be sure to first blackout or remove the prescription number and any personal information from the container.
If necessary, some medicines may be disposed of with other household garbage. To ensure safe handling and discourage theft, those medicines should be mixed with other materials, such as used coffee grounds, kitty litter, or saw dust, in a sealed, opaque disposable container before placing with other household waste.
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