Prescription Drug Disposal

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The News Media recently reported that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, on Nov. 19, signed a bill that bans health care facilities from dumping unused prescription medications into public sewers or into septic systems.

Prescription medicines serve a specific purpose and do not belong in our drinking water.  Governor Christie signed this legislation to ensure that our drinking water is clean and healthy.   The safest way to make sure children aren’t at risk from pharmaceuticals in our drinking water is to stop dumping medicine into the water supply.  Medical facilities can lead the way by properly disposing unused drugs.

The law followed a Press report in 2008 that found traces of drugs in drinking water in 24 metro areas where 41 million people live.

The law requires health care institutions to submit a plan to the state Department of Health and Senior Services and the Department of Environmental Protection for disposal of unused prescription drugs. The plan must describe how the institution will properly dispose of medications.  Violations are punishable by fines up to $2,500.

Most hospitals and health care institutions probably already dispose of medicines safely. There has been ample publicity about concerns over the effects of pharmaceuticals in drinking water. A logical next step is what to do to make sure the rest of us do what we should with unused drugs.

Project Medicine Drop

Many communities have drug drop-off programs, but many do not. It would be great to see every community provide a medicine drop off program so that they are safely destroyed and do not end up in our drinking water.  Here is a link for current drop off locations in NJ from the  NJ Division of Consumer Affairs website http://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/meddrop/locations.htm 

At English we have long recommended against disposal of medications into your septic system where it can be harmful to the bacteria and cause system failures.   Most homes with on site septic systems have well water too.  The decision to avoid introducing prescription drugs into your drinking water is in your hands.   Approach your community leaders to develop a drug drop-off program to protect the drinking water supply in general. 

Until next time,

Paul Behrens, Owner

English Sewage Disposal, Inc.

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