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Hazardous Waste/Prescription Drugs

Contributed on the public COH Inc. Facebook page:

On April 30th is the nationwide date scheduled for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Prescription Drug Take Back initiative. Here’s the website to try and find a location near where you live:…sposal/takeback/index.html

From Geralin Thomas, Disorganization Specialist:

Here’s a website worth exploring:

From NJ Despres Enterprises:

Every state has their own regulations. If you look at your local DPW or EMA website, you may find some help.

At Walgreens they have prepaid envelopes for $2.99 for mailing in unused prescriptions for proper disposal. I asked the pharmacist and she said they are available nationwide at the pharmacy counter.

From Cory Chalmers, Steri-Clean (a division of Crime Scene Steri-Clean, LLC):

“Definitely try calling your city or county to ask about a household hazardous waste collection location. Most cities and counties are now offering this service. They will take everything like paint, insecticides, and even household cleaners. Those types of things cannot be thrown into the trash unless they are just empty containers. Also, be warned that most only take 15 gallons at a time because that is the limit you can transport in a vehicle without needing a hazardous materials license. These sites also often give away collected items for free. If you need a cleaner, or some paint, check there first if it is nearby, and you can get all kinds of items you use on a daily basis for free! If you have to call a hazardous materials company to pick up and dispose of these items, it is extremely costly.”

From a COH:

“Our town has an annual household hazardous waste roundup. You can drop off your items free of charge, but they will be happy to take cash donations. You might check with your town council about sponsoring something like this.”

Unique Challenges…Prescription Drugs:

From a daughter in the middle of a clean-up:

“Household hazardous waste disposal companies will NOT accept medications. Companies that specialize in meth-lab clean up will not help. Local/hospital pharmacies can accept only small quantities of medications. Flushing is not a safe, reasonable, EPA- or water commission-approved method of disposal. Pharmaceutical distributors cannot help. Companies that contract with pharmaceutical reverse distribution companies will not accept collection from an individual homeowner. There is NO PLACE for an average citizen to safely and legally dispose of quantities of medications. I have weeks of searching, and countless phone calls under my belt to prove it. Had I not found my helpful DEA agent (who will deny that he helped once, and who will refuse to do it again), I would be up a creek. P.S. Medical Waste Disposal companies will not help, either.”

From the Fairfax, VA Hoarding Task Force (Yetman, John):

“The only way I know for a private residence to deal with a large volume of medications, is trash disposal. You are correct a large quantity of medications is hard to dispose of. However, just as with sharps, if you put the pills and liquids in a laundry detergent bottle or equivalently thick bottle and then seal the lid, they can go out as trash. (If you only have pills, add some water to ruin the ability to reuse them.)”

“I’m no expert but this seems like common sense: Some meds change chemical composition with age and can become toxic. Even if the original drug wouldn’t harm YOU, for safety’s sake it might be best to avoid fumes and eye, skin, or other direct contact with these items. I’d be careful about mixing stuff, too.”

From Cory Chalmers, Steri-Clean (a division of Crime Scene Steri-Clean, LLC):

“Here in California we were told you can flush them down the toilet as a means to dispose of them. If you are uncomfortable with that you can call The State Health Dept. Medical Waste Division for guidance. If you are in Southern California, you can drop them off at our facility where we get our bio-hazardous waste collected every Monday. It gets placed into a different container than regular bio-hazardous waste, because it gets destroyed in a different way. We will also give you a medical waste manifest showing quantity disposed of with us.”

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