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Friday, September 30th, 2016
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Recycling 101 - 3.3.14

By LaVerne C. Paulson

Fri, Feb 28th, 2014
Posted in All Home & Garden

There have been several questions concerning medicine disposal in the last few months. Today’s article will address this subject. Although medical waste has very little to do with recycling, the correct disposal of medicine is extremely important to the environment. Much of this information has been shared with you before, but a little review might be in order.

There is a pretty good chance that each of us has cleaned out our medicine cabinet, and either on purpose or by accident, disposed of medicines incorrectly. If you have flushed them down the toilet, poured them down your sink, threw them into a ditch, or dropped them into a gopher hole, you need to change your method of disposal. While flushing unwanted medicine does indeed prevent accidental human ingestion, many non-human organisms will most likely be negatively affected. Medicines are not environmentally friendly and will put many living things in your area, including your children, your grandchildren, your pets, wild birds and other animals, and you at risk.

Medicines can harm beneficial bacteria found in septic systems on farms and municipal wastewater treatment plants. These bacteria are responsible for breaking down waste. To make matters worse, many of these drugs are not destroyed as they pass through the septic tank or the treatment plant. They are then released into nearby creeks and rivers, exposing aquatic life to unwanted medications, hormones, and steroids. Those frogs, found in Minnesota waters several years ago that had acquired extra legs, may very well have been offspring of generations of ancestors who were exposed to very small amounts of drugs over a period of several years, changing their genetic patterns.

How do you dispose of this stuff without endangering the environment? Place pills and liquids into a laundry detergent bottle or plastic pop bottle. Add an inch or two of water. Allow the tablets and capsules to dissolve. Then add a few spoons of flour, charcoal, dirt, or kitty litter (used, if you have it) to discourage anyone from consuming the mixture. Place the top on the container securely and add it to your landfill garbage. Over the counter medications, as well as pharmaceuticals, can be disposed of this way. Do not put this with your recycling. Do not store medication that you have no intention of ever using.

Purchase only the medications you really need. Do not accept free samples if you are not going to use them. Keep all pharmaceuticals in one location. This may help to limit purchasing products you already have, just to dispose of them when they expire a few years from now.

Evidence of drugs, hormones, and steroids continue to be found in many of our streams and rivers. Please help keep our beautiful streams in Fillmore County suitable for our trout, crayfish, and other aquatic life. As I’ve mentioned before, a frog with five legs just doesn’t seem like a good thing.

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