Medication Disposal

Environmentally Safe Disposal of Pharmaceuticals

Medication DisposalThe Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has launched an initiative in collaboration with partners in both the private and public sector to promote environmentally responsible disposal of unwanted and expired medications.

Under a pilot program, IEPA has worked with several communities across the state, including county health departments, other local governments and pharmacies to provide expanded opportunities for collecting or dropping off pharmaceutical and personal care products.

The Agency also has done sampling of several public water supplies across the state for a variety of pharmaceuticals. While there currently is no evidence of any imminent human health threat concern, there is a growing concern about the impact on aquatic life and habitat. In addition, with the aging of the large baby boom generation and overall increase in the use of medications, it is important to keep these medications out of our water supplies.

On Oct. 1, 2008, Illinois EPA sponsored a “Meds with Water, Not in Water” Summit Conference in which more than 100 representatives from organizations ranging from the pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution industry, to healthcare providers, law enforcement agencies, drinking water and wastewater treatment agencies, educators and local and state government met to brainstorm on this issue.

The coalitions that emerged from this summit have a two-pronged action objective. The first is to educate the public, through distribution of posters, fact sheets and pamphlets, about proper disposal methods, particularly to discourage the traditional method of flushing pills down the toilet or the drain. The second action objective is to establish a greatly expanded network of secure pharmaceutical collection centers throughout the state. A Medication Education Disposal Solutions (MEDS) Action Committee has been formed as a follow-up to the Summit to work on these objectives.

This IEPA web page is intended to consolidate fact sheets, collection options, useful partner links and other information on the disposal of medications.

With your help we can make Illinois a national leader in reducing the amount of discarded medications entering our rivers and lakes that may otherwise ultimately impact our drinking water supplies and aquatic ecosystems.

Additional Information

In addition to the items in the navigation menu to the right, the following additional information is available: