The official about disposing of prescription drugs is just "ok". While following the guidelines might help keep prescription drugs out of the hands of those who could abuse them, it does nothing to keep those same drugs out of our drinking water.
In the end, this is an environmental issue, not a drug abuse situation.
You are probably aware of the reports appearing in the news about how prescription drugs are showing up in water supplies all over the world. How does this happen? I suggest there are three main ways:
- First, prescription drugs - and their metabolites - are excreted in urine and/or feces of the people who use them. These materials are processed but there are presently no effective methods to remove all drug residues from the processed water.
- Second, excess drugs are flushed down the toilet and end up being treated as above.
- Third, well-intending people dispose of their unused medicines either by tossing them directly in the garbage or by following the U.S. Guidelines.
All of these approaches still allow contamination because nothing is being done to reduce the overall load of medicines, chemicals, and drugs.
Some local communities are taking steps to do something positive. They are organizing collection events and having the collected drugs incinerated at an EPA-approved facility. That really destroys the drugs and keeps them out of our water supply. This effort will help to a limited degree. I encourage you to be aware of these programs and participate whenever possible. Every small amount incinerated saves our water.
To finally resolve the problems we must consider better methods. The Compounder motto is, "Too Many People Use Too Many Drugs". When people use fewer drugs there will be far less ending up in the environment. In addition, water treatment facilities need to develop cost-effective ways to remove drug residue from waste water; not allowing the drugs to get into the water supply.
Today we're just beginning to recognize the immensity of this problem, but it isn't too late. Good stewards of the environment will find the means to address this problem and allow our water to return again to its original, clean state