The importance of proper prescription disposal

TUCSON, Ariz. - Many people find themselves in a position where they have old prescriptions, that they don't need, in their medicine cabinets. Raul Munoz, with the Pima County Health Department, explains amid the opioid epidemic, it's crucial that people dispose of their prescriptions when they're done taking them.

"Any excess of these types of medications is a potential hazard to not only that individual that they were prescribed to," he said. "But anybody that is in the home."

Throwing away the pills can negatively affect the environment and animals, and flushing them can contaminate the water many bathe with and drink every day, according to Munoz. The best way to get rid of the old pills, in his eyes, are at the more than two dozen safe medication disposal spots around Pima County.

Prescriptions in liquid forms also need to be disposed of properly, Munoz says.

"You can mix it with coffee grounds, or kitty litter," he said. "Then secure it into some type of container and duct tape it, that is safe to throw away in the trash."

Another, newer way that the health department and other agencies are telling people how to dispose of prescriptions, without having to leave the house, is the "Deterra" bag. The person puts the pills inside, fills it up with water, and waits for about 30 seconds as the water deactivates and dissolves the pills. 

"The bag is biodegradable, it's environmentally safe," Munoz said. "You throw it away in the trash."

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