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Environmental Health

macomb county public health

Medication Disposal

The health care system and advancements in drug therapy have contributed to Americans living longer than ever before. As the population ages, the volume of medications prescribed increases dramatically. Patients over the age of 75 average 12 new prescriptions per year. It is estimated that four of every five patients leave the doctor's office with a prescription.

The Problem

Recently, the Associated Press released a report,which found that low concentrations of prescription drugs and over the counter medications have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas throughout the country, including Detroit.  Contributing to the problem is the disposal dilemma faced by residents who want to safely dispose of unwanted medications without flushing them down the drain.

Medications and personal care products pose a threat to children while in the home and pose a threat to our water and soil upon disposal.

Medications may become unwanted for a variety of reasons:
     -change in medication
     -change in dosage
     -not used by patient
     -medication is outdated
     -patient has improved
     -patient has died

Historically, unwanted medications were either flushed down the toilet or thrown out in the garbage. Both of these options pose a risk:

1. Children or pets can accidentally ingest medications discarded in the garbage
2. Medications flushed down the toilet may not be completely removed by the sewage treatment process and end up in ground or surface waters.

The Solution

The Macomb County Health Department is accepting unwanted and outdated medications from Macomb County residents through the Household Hazardous Waste collection for proper disposal.

For monthly collection dates, times and locations click here or medications can be brought in to the Mt. Clemens Health Center anytime during normal business hours.

The Health Department is now partnering with local pharmacies to expand our drug disposal program. Please click on the link below for a brochure for a list of participating pharmacies: DrugDisposalTrifold

Before bringing in your unwanted medication please follow these procedures:

•Remove pills from bottles and combine together in an unmarked/unlabeled container such as a zip lock bag.
•Please do not bring pill bottles to the collection site.

Please Note: Controlled substances and syringes will not be accepted. Examples of controlled substances include: narcotic painkillers, Morphine, Ritalin, Tylenol III with codeine, etc.  For information on locations of disposal sites for controlled substances click here.

For information on disposal of syringes please follow this link to: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/whm-stsw-sharps-collection-list_196524_7.pdf


If you have any questions, call us at 586-469-5236, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. or E-mail us now.

Other Resources

Environmental Protection Agency

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