You know what’s scarier than Halloween?
Millions of people flushing unwanted prescription drugs down the toilet, where they’ll travel to treatment plants unequipped to handle them.
That being said, clowns are also terrifying.
In just a few short days, locations across the Brazos River basin and the nation will be hosting events to help dispose of unneeded medications from homes to help prevent medication misuse and opioid addiction from ever starting.
This is a great opportunity to dispose of unneeded medications that little hands can accidentally get ahold of without knowing potential dangers.
The effort is part of “National Take Back Day” conducted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other government and public safety officials. The event is held in April and October of every year. An effective way to reduce the number of chemicals in our water is by curbing household disposal of pharmaceuticals in our water systems.
The 23rd National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 29, 2022.
Go here to enter your zip code or county name and find a collection site near you. You can also dispose of medications by taking them to a local pharmacy. You can find year-round drop-off locations here.
“Common medications, as well as illegal drugs, released into the environment can damage ecosystems and interfere with the growth and behavior (sp) of animals and plants,” according to this Natural History Museum article.
There’s been evidence that environmental exposure to active pharmaceutical ingredients has had harmful effects on the health of ecosystems and fish, according to a research article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
There’s quite a bit of evidence for pharmaceuticals in the water affecting aquatic life, particularly fish, according to Harvard Medical School Harvard Health Publishing.
In April 2022, more than 4,400 law enforcement agencies participated in the takeback event and more than 5,100 collection sites were held. More than 721,000 pounds – or 360 tons – of medications were collected.
“This is kind of an emerging environmental concern, and these wastewater treatment plants were not originally intended to address this type of contamination and, in fact, are not actually intended to address contaminant concentrations at these part per trillion levels, these very, very low concentrations. It turns out that there is evidence that even at these really low concentrations, some of these emerging contaminants are actually harmful to the environment,” said USGS Research Ecologist Dr. Paul Bradley in this USGS article.
Of course, flushing isn’t the only way pharmaceuticals enter our waterways. But this one step can help significantly. Disposing of unused medications is as important as how you do it.\