A few years ago, the University of Michigan confirmed that it is a bad idea to put old medicines down the drain. The State of Michigan agrees. Here is a link to the MDEQ’s website on this topic. There have been concerns regarding the impacts of pharmaceuticals on wildlife, as most wastewater treatment plants are not designed or equipped to treat for medicines.
A few years ago, we had to rely on special programs to properly dispose of old medications, but while recently helping my father-in-law, I learned that there are many more local drop off sites than before. Here is one website that you can use to locate take-back locations. The Michigan State Police are now taking back medications at their 29 posts. The Oakland County Sheriff has launched Operation Medicine Cabinet with 33 locations across the County – these will accept all dry medicines. If you have to put medications in the trash, here are instructions on how best to prepare them for disposal.
Why is flushing medicine a bad idea? The UM report talks about creating antibiotic resistant superbugs and there have been other reports about hormonal changes in fish, and finding traces of various prescription substances in drinking water (yes, what we flush can wind up in someone else’s drinking supply).