February 06, 2018

Every year, unwanted or expired medications are flushed down the toilet, which can cause problems like water pollution and accidental ingestion in our communities. Flushing unused medications may seem like a safe way to quickly dispose prescriptions in order to keep them out of the wrong hands, but these compounds are finding their way into our waterways. 

Most medicines are not completely removed by wastewater treatment processes or septic systems, which is why it's so important to dispose of medication one of the three ways listed below.

Permanent Medication Drop-Off Locations
View a complete list of permanent drop-off locations.

There are permanent medication drop-off locations around the region. Check Loudoun County's website for the latest list of places to drop off your medications.

Disposal of Medication in the Trash Can
Always check your pill bottle for any instructions regarding proper disposal. If none are present, proceed to the following steps.

  1. Mix medicines (do not crush tablets or capsules) with an unpalatable substance such as dirt, kitty litter, or used coffee grounds;
  2. Place the mixture in a container such as a sealed plastic bag
  3. Throw the container in your household trash;
  4. Scratch out all personal information on the prescription label of your empty pill bottle or empty medicine packaging to make it unreadable, then dispose of the container.

Source: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

Drug Take-Back Programs
The majority of unwanted medications can be safely disposed of at medicine take-back events, which are run throughout the year. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), working with state and local law enforcement agencies, periodically sponsors National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days. 

Take advantage of events in the community that allow the public to properly dispose of unused medicines at a central location. Dates are listed on the Loudoun County Government website. Since the DEA take-back program began in 2010, more than 8,000 pounds of unwanted medications have been collected in Loudoun County.