May 27, 2019

Four risks of keeping expired and unwanted medicines at home

We are all guilty of keeping medicines stockpiled in various locations. Sometimes in more than one location – bathrooms, kitchen cupboards, and handbags. While keeping your medicines safe in one location is very important, ensuring that you safely dispose of any expired and unwanted medicine is just as crucial. Here’s why:

1. Accidental Consumption

You or someone in your family may accidentally take expired or unwanted medicine, which could have an unknown and detrimental effect on their health. Once medicine is expired, it  will likely no longer be effective, but could also become dangerous due to a change in its chemical composition.

2. Potential Harm to Children

The more medicine you have in your house, the more the risk of harm increases to children. By returning any expired or unwanted medicine to your local pharmacy, you reduce the amount of medicine in your home and reduce the risk of accidental poisoning in your child. Also make sure to keep any non-expired medicines in a locked cupboard away from the reach of young children, and do not leave medicines unattended on benches or other places your child could reach.

3. Damage to waterways

After you have gathered any expired or unwanted medicine, it is important not to flush them down the toilet. Once medicine enters our waterways, it poses a risk to marine life, water quality, and even our food and water supplies. By returning the unwanted medicine to your local pharmacy, you will be ensuring that the medicine is destroyed safely using a high temperature EPA- approved incinerator and is kept out of our waterways.

4. Unnecessary landfill

Additionally, it is also important not to throw any unwanted medicine in your normal waste bin. Medicines are a unique type of hazardous chemical that need to be kept out of our solid waste system and landfills to prevent any harm to people and the environment. Returning your medicine will also help reduce the amount of waste going to landfills.

By ensuring you dispose of your unwanted medicine safely, you will not only be helping the environment, but also enhancing yours and  your children’s safety. To return any unwanted or expired medicine, simply take the medicine without any packaging to your local pharmacy.

The Return of Unwanted Medicines Project is a free service that offers a way to dispose of unwanted or expired medicines safely and conveniently at your local community pharmacy. Find out more about the service here.

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