Communities have started to take advantage of a federal law signed by President Obama in October that makes it easier for communities to run programs allowing people to safely dispose of old medications.
The Safe and Secure Drug Disposal Act is encouraging local communities to start such programs. USA Today reports the law was passed in response to the problem of people abusing, selling or unsafely discarding old medications. Now localities around the country are providing secure drop boxes where people can dump unused drugs. The paper reports on one program that incinerates some controlled substances, while taking others to a hazardous-waste landfill. In Marathon County, WI, a drug disposal program has collected more than 1,000 pounds of pharmaceuticals in the past year, as well as nearly 500 pounds of controlled medications including painkillers.
While the Environmental Protection Agency used to recommend flushing unused medications, scientists in recent years have discovered small amounts of drugs in lakes and rivers.