How to Discard Your Meds

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched a new Web site to increase awareness about possible harm to the environment from chemicals found in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, perfumes and other personal-care products. The Web site ( offers consumer tips on properly disposing of these products to help prevent pollution.

Studies have shown that pharmaceuticals are present in our nation's rivers. As EPA scientists and other researchers continue to investigate the environmental effects, the agency suggests one straightforward way that consumers can help out — by properly disposing of expired and unused prescription drugs. The federal government has developed guidelines that strike a balance between environmental protection and human health risks for poison or abuse from discarded medications:

· Take unused, unneeded or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers and throw them in the trash.

· Mix prescription drugs with an undesirable substance like unused coffee or kitty litter, and put them in impermeable containers like empty cans or sealed bags.

· Flush prescription drugs down the toilet, but only if the label specifically instructs doing so.

· Participate in community pharmaceutical "take-back" programs that allow the public to bring unused medications to a central location for proper disposal.



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