Beginning this year the State of Colorado has expanded its efforts to encourage consumers to “take back” their unwanted medications. Take-back programs help the environment by keeping unused pharmaceuticals out of the water supply and the landfills. Flushing or throwing away medications can harm wildlife and even get into our own drinking water supply. According to one source, “there is genuine concern that [pharmaceuticals in the environment] could be causing impacts to human health.” Antibiotics, hormones, and other pharmaceutical compounds have been detected in drinking water across the United States.
So what can you do to help? If you have medications you no longer need, including expired medications or leftovers from old prescriptions, do not flush them or throw them away. Instead, bring them to one of Colorado’s many permanent drop-off sites, typically located in drugstores and other convenient sites. According to a press release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the state plans to have drop-off locations in every county by the end of 2017. You can learn more by visiting takemedsseriously.org, a consumer-directed website developed through a partnership between the Colorado Governor’s Office, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, and the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. In addition to the information on medication disposal, the site also includes resources on safe use, safe storage, and more.
For further data, see Unused Medication Disposal in Colorado, a report from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.