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Q: People are dumping prescription medications and they are getting in our groundwater. What is the proper way to dispose of prescriptions?

A: “In Twin Falls specifically, I have been told that the sheriff’s department and the city police are able to collect pharmaceutical medications,” said Josh Jensen, South Central Public Health District Program Manager.

The permanent take-back locations in the Magic Valley are: Twin Falls Police Department, Kimberly/Hansen Police Department, Buhl Police Department, Jerome County Sheriff’s Office, Wendell Police Department, Gooding County Sheriff’s Office, Shoshone Police Department, Cassia County Sheriff’s Department, Heyburn Police Department, Rupert Police Department, Blaine County Sheriff’s Office, Hailey Police Department, Ketchum Police Department, and Sun Valley Police Department. Sharps, IV tubing, and infectious waste are not accepted.

There are concerns about trace levels of drug residues found in surface water, such as rivers and lakes, and in some community drinking water supplies from flushing certain medications.

Almost all medicines can be thrown in the household trash. “Do not flush medicines down the sink or toilet unless specifically instructed to do so,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website says. Some medications that could be harmful to other people if taken specifically instruct the user to flush down the sink or toilet when they are no longer needed, the FDA said.

If no disposal instructions are given on the prescription drug labeling, throw the drugs in the household trash following these steps from the FDA’s website:

1. Remove them from their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance such as used coffee grounds, dirt, or cat litter (this makes the drug less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through the trash seeking drugs).

2. Place the mixture in a sealable bag, empty can, or other container to prevent the drug from leaking or breaking out of the garbage bag.

3. Scratch out all identifying information on the prescription label to make it unreadable. This will help protect your identity and the privacy of your personal health information.

4. Do not give your medicine to friends. Doctors prescribe medicines based on your specific symptoms and medical history. Something that works for you could be dangerous for someone else.

5. When in doubt about proper disposal, ask your pharmacist.

“The National Drug Take Back Day was last month,” Jensen said.

The Idaho Office of Drug Policy reported Idaho residents turned in 1.6 tons of unused medicine which was removed from circulation on Oct. 22. It aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications stated the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration.

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