Medications and other products created to benefit our health and well-being take fantastic voyages through our bodies. Some quantities of these items dissolve into our bloodstream and tissues, while some pass right on out of our system, through our sweat, urine, or feces, or get washed from our skin in the shower.
Some of these materials never even make it into our bodies. Unfinished doses of pills get flushed down toilets, and leftover ointments and lotions are tossed into the garbage. All of it eventually ends up in our soil or in our water, and evidence mounts that these materials could pose a risk to our environment. Less certain, though, is the impact of these products on our health.
Thousands of tons of these materials get used each year, but the good news is that the concentration of these materials in our water and soil remains low. Scientific investigations continue to examine potential health issues, such as antibiotic resistance and whether fetal development could be adversely affected if pregnant women were exposed to an accumulation of these materials.
In the meantime, the best way to preserve ecosystems and safeguard ourselves from potential health risks is to responsibly and safely dispose of our medications and personal care products.
- Follow your doctor's and pharmacist's instructions for safely taking your medications. Stick to the right dosage, follow dosing schedules, and heed any labelled warnings.
- Do a spring and autumn cleaning of your medicine cabinet. Check expiry dates and take outdated, unfinished products to a designated drug recycling program. Most pharmacies sponsor these programs, so take the medications to your local pharmacy for proper disposal. You can also check with your municipality to find out the best and safest place to dispose of the products.
- Never put unused or expired medications in the garbage, toilet, or sink.
- Don't forget about other products, such as vitamins and supplements, homeopathic remedies, suppositories, and pet medications.
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