Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water

Protecting Water Resources
The best and most cost-effective way to ensure safe water at the tap is to keep our source waters clean. An important step that we all can take is properly disposing of unused medications so that they don’t end up in our wastewater. Anything flushed down the toilet or drain could potentially make its way into our drinking water sources.

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Drug Disposal

Even though our water reclamation processes are very advanced, not all of the chemical compounds found in medications are removed from the flushed waters.  Whenever possible, the ACC Public Utilities Department recommends old and unused medications be disposed of using a medicine take-back.  

You can help by following these recommended methods for properly disposing of prescription drugs:

  • The ACC Public Utilities Department never recommends flushing medications down the toilet or drain.  However, the FDA lists a small, select group of medications it considers to have a greater risk of harm from accidental exposure that outweighs the potential risk to the environment from disposal by flushing.  See the list of medications 
  • The ACC Police Department maintains two prescription medication drop boxes to allow for the secure, safe, and environmentally friendly disposal of unwanted medications.  One prescription medication drop box is located in the lobby at the East Precinct (Police Headquarters), 3035
    Lexington Road
    . The second drop box is in the lobby of the West Police Precinct, Georgia Square Mall, 3700 Atlanta Hwy. Both drop boxes are available to the public between the hours of 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday (excluding holidays).  Learn more here
  • Contact your pharmacy to ask if they take back unused/expired medications for disposal.
  • Mixing prescription drugs with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter, and putting them in impermeable containers, such as empty cans or sealable bags, will further ensure the drugs are not diverted.
  • Before throwing out an empty pill bottle, remember to scratch out all personal information on the prescription label to make it unreadable.
  • Visit the FDA website for more information regarding the disposal of unused medications.

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