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Never Flush Meds Down the Toilet

By Barbara A. Preston | Posted February 16, 2023


Prescription medications should never be flushed down the toilet or thrown into the garbage, according to local environmental groups. It may be even more dangerous to leave certain medicines around the house, where they could fall into the wrong hands.

Project Medicine Drop Box at Montgomery Township’s town hall.

What to do? Drop your unused and unneeded meds at Montgomery Township’s town hall, in a special box they have set up in the lobby. While researching the dangers of disposing unused meds, The Montgomery News found that the FDA suggests that certain meds — such as fentanyl, methadone, morphine, and oxycodone —and may be “safely” flushed down the toilet.


Steve Tuorto, PhD, director of Science and Stewardship for The Watershed Institute in Hopewell, explains: “Some medications are on a federal list of flushable medications. However, we don’t think these should be flushed or washed down the drain.”


“There are many studies across the country and in New Jersey that show prescription medicine can contaminate our lakes and streams and hurt fish and other aquatic life by disrupting their reproductive systems. Some prescription medicine, can negatively impact the biochemical work important for processing sewage, especially in our septic systems."


Trace amounts of prescription medicine can also end up in our drinking water so adding these medicines to our water supply by flushing them isn’t good for anyone.” Wastewater treatment facilities are not designed to remove pharmaceutical compounds and they may end up in your local waterways, and may eventually be found in drinking water. Properly disposing of unwanted and expired prescriptions and over-the-counter medications promotes a healthy aquatic environment and prevents accidental poisoning and intentional abuse.


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Project Medicine Drop is a program sponsored by the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office, the Somerset County Solid Waste Management Division and the US DEA. Medications should be dropped off in their original packages or bottles. Montgomery Township joined the “Project Medicine Drop” initiative, and has installed a Project Medicine Drop Box at the Municipal Complex.


This project makes it easier and more convenient than ever for Montgomery Township residents to take an active role in the fight against the nationwide epidemic of opiate and heroin abuse, which is fueled by the abuse of prescription painkillers. “Project Medicine Drop is a natural addition to our commitment to help improve the public safety and quality of life in Montgomery Township. It will encourage our residents to be fully aware of the potential for abuse presented by otherwise beneficial medications,” Montgomery Township Police Department Captain Silvio Bet, Director of Police said.

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