Disposal of Medications

The Problem with Flushing Medications

When you flush medications down the toilet or pour them down the drain, they flow into the Cape Cod community’s underground source of fresh drinking water, as well as into our lakes, ponds, rivers, and coastal waters, where they can harm our populations of local fish and wildlife

Four Safe Steps Toward Proper Disposal

  1. Pour medication into a sealable plastic bag. If medication is a solid (pill, liquid capsule, etc.), crush it or add water to dissolve it.
  2. Add cat litter, sawdust, coffee grounds (or any material that mixes with the medication and makes it less appealing for pets and children to eat) to the plastic bag.
  3. Seal the plastic bag and put it in the trash.
  4. Remove and destroy ALL identifying personal information (prescription label) from all medication containers before recycling them or throwing them into the trash.

Common Questions

Why doesn’t Barnstable County collect these medications at an official place or time?

Due to Federal and State law, collections are costly and complex to arrange and require an on-duty police officer and pharmicist to be on site.

Why can’t I just dump pills into my kitchen trash can? Do I really need to go through all those steps?

When pills are thrown directly into the trash, it can lead to unintended exposure to people or animals. People may go through the trash to obtain unused medications or personal information found on discarded prescription bottles. The extra steps provide a safer method for disposing of unused medications.

What do we know about the impacts of medications found in water on fish and wildlife?

Many pharmaceuticals and their by-products have been detected in waters. Researchers are currently examining the potential effects of these compounds on fish and wildlife

What is an aquifer?

A Sole Source Aquifer is an underground supply of water designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as the “sole or principal” source of drinking water for an area. We get ALL of our drinking water on Cape Cod from our Sole Source Aquifer.

All uses of water on Cape Cod - whether for drinking, swimming, boating, shellfishing, cranberry farming, or wetland habitat - depend on the health and quality of our aquifer. Cape Cod’s Sole Source Aquifer is directly affected by everything that goes down your drain, including expired or unwanted.

For More Information Regarding Safe Medications and Prescriptions Disposal.