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Why do we wait six months to dispose of old medications? - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Why do we wait six months to dispose of old medications?

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

According to the DEA, more than 2.8 million pounds of expired or unused medications have been collected through their bi-annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day collections.

Organizers say the events keep drugs out of the wrong hands, but with the two collections six months apart there's a lot of opportunity for people to pilfer drugs between events.

Related article: ArkLaTex law enforcement agencies hold drug take back day

Why aren't Americans disposing of meds in-between the mass collections?

The EPA publication says flushing medications down the drain could contaminate the water supply, but most of the medications currently found in local waterways were expelled from the human body after a person purposefully took the drug.

While there may be an ecological effect from pharmaceutical residue, the CDC, FDA and EPA acknowledge scientists haven't found evidence of adverse human health effects.

Some say throwing meds down the drain or in the trash can would be acceptable alternatives.

"An EPA-designated landfill has been constructed to certain qualifications, specifications to specifically keep those things out of the ecosystem and the water," says Dr. Mark Ryan from the Louisiana Poison Center.

Take-back collections are disposed of through a few methods, but one of the most common is incineration.

"If we think of it from an environmental stand point, if we're incinerating something [and] burning it, we're possibly putting things into the air," Ryan says. "So again, it's a fine balance."

Alternating between the water, landfill and incineration methods may minimize risks by spreading out the potentially hazardous materials.

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