Pharmaceuticals that end up in the trash or the toilet can pollute our waterways. When people improperly dispose of pharmaceuticals by flushing them down the toilet, they make their way through the sewer system, which empties into Lake Michigan – the primary source of Milwaukee County’s drinking water. In fact, recent studies by the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences found the presence of intact pharmaceutical compounds up to three miles from sewer outfalls. That means those compounds don’t break down when they hit the drinking water supply.
Old prescriptions laying around in medicine cabinets can also get into the wrong hands, and are becoming the first exposure kids have to illegal drugs. More than three in five teens say prescription pain relievers are easy to get from parents’ medicine cabinets. The easy availability of prescriptions is a major factor in overdose – which is a leading cause of accidental death in Milwaukee.
The solution to keeping medicine out of the hands of our children and out of our drinking water is to provide more convenient options for people to get rid of their unused prescriptions. Drug takeback and recycling programs elsewhere have shown that the way to encourage people to do the right thing is to make disposal options convenient. Placing more drop boxes at pharmacies is the best way to do that.
Click here to find a safe drug disposal location near you.