You are here: Home Our Work Clean & Plentiful Water Love Your River Past Monthly Challenges November 2010 Challenge: Keep Your River Off Drugs

November 2010 Challenge: Keep Your River Off Drugs

Flushing unused medications down the toilet used to be the responsible way to prevent drug abuse. But today, we're finding pharmaceuticals in our rivers. A national study of 139 streams in 30 states found drugs in 80% of the samples.

Flushing unused medications down the toilet used to be the responsible way to prevent drug abuse. But today, we're finding pharmaceuticals in our rivers. A national study of 139 streams in 30 states found drugs in 80% of the samples.

Water from most toilets and drains goes to a wastewater treatment plant before it enters the river—but that doesn't mean everything gets cleaned out of the water.

While we don't know how the drugs found in our rivers impact human health, we do know that they harm fish. Estrogen from birth control pills and other hormone-mimicking chemicals cause male fish to develop female sex organs. This can reduce fish fertility and threaten species survival. It's happening all over the country, including the Columbia and Willamette rivers.

We can't do much about the fact that medication passes through our bodies and into wastewater; but we can do something to keep unused medication out of our rivers.

Please, don't flush your meds. Here's what you can do instead:

november 2010 challenge

          image by filckr user Carly & Art

1. Take leftover meds to a drug take-back event.

Round up all your unwanted or expired medications, and bring them to a drug take-back event. Your prescription and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals will be collected safely and anonymously and taken to a solid waste incinerator.

A national drug take-back event is scheduled for November 13, 2010: the American Medicine Chest Challenge. Find participating drop-off sites.

Such events are specially organized with local authorities so that they can legally possess drugs prescribed to someone else. Contact your local police department's non-emergency number to ask about upcoming drug take-back events.

2. Throw unwanted meds in the trash.

If you can't find a drug take-back event near you, your next best option is to put unwanted medications in the trash. Mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter to make them unappealing to anyone who may abuse them and seal them in a bag to cut down on leaching from the landfill into the river. Putting drugs in landfills causes less water pollution than flushing them down the toilet.

3. Help friends and family dispose of their meds.

Do you have a relative or a family friend who is elderly or needs to take a lot of medications? Make sure they know how to safely dispose of leftover prescriptions. Ask if you can help them clean out their medicine cabinet. Family medicine cabinets are becoming a common source of teenage abuse of prescription drugs. Learn more about prescription drug abuse prevention in Oregon.

Making it even easier.

At the Oregon Environmental Council, we believe drug take-back events are a good start, but it should be more convenient to safely dispose of pharmaceuticals year-round. Check out the recommendations of the Oregon Drug Take Back Stakeholder Group.

Personal tools
powered by Plone | site by Groundwire Consulting and served with clean energy