Dispose of medications the safe, green way – prescription turn-in event March 13

How do you get rid of expired or unneeded prescription medications without harming the environment, while keeping them away from people who might abuse them?

Photo: Flickr.com/hitthatswitch

Many people toss them in the garbage or flush them down the toilet or drain. Other people just let them accumulate, gathering dust in their medicine cabinets. Unfortunately, these methods can cause big problems.

If you leave them in the medicine chest, the drugs can fall into the wrong hands. They can be abused, traded or sold.

If you throw them in the trash or flush them, the medications can find their way into waterways. Wastewater treatment plants eliminate some contaminants, but not all can be filtered out; an Associated Press investigation found traces of prescription drugs in the drinking water of 41 million Americans in 2008, including hormones, antibiotics, and psychiatric medications.

This Saturday, March 13, Portlanders can dispose of medications in a safe, environmentally-friendly way. The free turn-in event will take place at Fred Meyer, 7404 N. Interstate Avenue, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Look for the Portland Police Bureau Mobile Precinct. (Outside Portland? See the bottom of this article.)

What to bring:

* Expired or unwanted prescription drugs
* Unneeded over-the-counter medicines
* Drugs you no longer take
* Drugs that didn’t work for you
* Leftover drugs from family members and pets
* Medicine from deceased family members
* Unknown tablets and capsules

What to know:

* Leave all medications in their original containers if possible.
* Do not bring thermometers, needles, or medical waste of any type.
* Medications can be collected from individual households only, not medical offices or institutions.

Can’t make it?

If you live outside the Portland area, or you can’t make it to the turn-in event, here’s the best way to dispose of your prescriptions, according to the American Pharmacists Association and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

1. Crush medications in a plastic bag.
2. Add coffee grounds, sawdust, or kitty litter.
3. Seal the bag and put it in the trash.

For more information on the turn-in event, contact Angela Wagnon, 503-823-4094.