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Keeping Medicines Out of Our Water

WVRC has teamed up with a number of pharmacies around the state who have agreed to collect unwanted and expired consumer medications. Members of the public may bring any medication, except controlled substances (i.e. narcotics, illegal drugs), to the participating West Virginia Consumer Drug Return Partnership pharmacy. These medications are collected in a secure, tamper-resistant receptacle behind the pharmacy counter. Once the container is full, we arrange for our licensed medical waste facility to transport and incinerate the entire container. No medications are thrown into the trash, and no medications are flushed into our water systems. Click here to find a take-back location.

Why is it important to return your medicines rather than flush them down the toilet or throw them in the trash?

Pharmaceuticals, both the medicines your doctor prescribes and the over-the-counter treatments you purchase at your local pharmacy, contain powerful chemicals that can have adverse effects on the environment when introduced through our water systems or landfills. Studies show that nearly every major drinking water source in the United States has tested positive for these substances.

In addition, pharmaceuticals present a number of human health issues. Scientists theorize that pharmaceuticals ingested through our drinking water can cause negative effects on the human body including reproductive health issues, cancer and infections. Further investigation and research needs to be conducted to fully understand the extent of this issue.

Unused and unwanted medicines can also have catastrophic effects on communities. Unintentional deaths through poisoning and abuse, diversion (illegal use of prescriptions) and crime all stem from excess medications in our homes.

In response to these issues, we formed the West Virginia Consumer Drug Return Partnership late in 2008. By developing an easy, effective and environmentally responsible way to dispose of unwanted and expired consumer medications we are working to address the negative environmental and societal impacts caused by pharmaceuticals.

The West Virginia Consumer Drug Return Partnership gives you the option to dispose of your unused and unwanted pharmaceuticals without introducing these powerful chemicals into our waters. Wastewater treatment plants are unable to filter pharmaceuticals from water, so when you flush your medicines down the toilet they are directly introduced into the environment. Even disposing of these chemicals through your trash poses dangers. In a recent study by the Maine DEP scientists found that leachate, or the water that collects and percolates out of landfills, was found to contain pharmaceuticals causing environmental contamination. The only way to prevent unwanted consumer pharmaceuticals from reaching the environment is through pharmaceutical take-back programs.

The West Virginia Consumer Drug Return Partnership provides citizens of West Virginia a safe, easy and environmentally friendly way to clean out their medicine cabinets and remove unwanted drugs from their homes.
Web Editor,
Dec 13, 2013, 2:03 PM