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Pharmaceutical Disposal Information and Collection Programs

Pharmaceutical Disposal Information and Collection Programs

In light of emerging information about trace amounts of pharmaceuticals found in water supplies across the country, the City of Boulder Utilities Division would like to provide residents with water treatment information, recommended pharmaceutical disposal practices and other city programs.

  • For Prescription Drug Drop-Off information in Boulder County, call 303-413-7350.
  • For general inquiries, contact Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment at 888-659-1831 ext. 3320 (toll-free).

Prescription Drug Drop-Off Box

Environmental Impacts

Recent studies indicate that medications flushed down the toilet or drain may have an adverse impact on the environment, including streams, fish and other aquatic life. Boulder's municipal wastewater treatment facility is not equipped to completely remove all of the chemicals and compounds found in various medications. Trace amounts of pharmaceuticals can be released back into the local waterways, which may have an adverse impact on the environment. Recent studies have shown that these chemicals can affect aquatic life and even make their way into drinking water supplies.

The Keep It Clean Partnership has developed programs to meet requirements established by the EPA regarding stormwater regulations. These regulations require our communities to help maintain water quality and stream health.

City Water Monitoring and Treatment

The City of Boulder Utilities Division owns and operates two water treatment plants. The Federal Safe Water Drinking Act (SDWA) requires that water monitoring be performed at these plants as well as various other sample locations. The city monitors the quality of treated water for many constituents, as required under SDWA, but currently does not test for pharmaceuticals as it is not required nor has the city been identified for having any significant risk or vulnerability.

We all play a part

The responsibility for clean water rests with everyone. What you put back into Boulder Creek has a substantial effect on water quality. Here are a few tips on how to safely dispose of over-the-counter and prescription medications. Your action will help keep water supplies clean.

Don't let water quality "go down the drain"

There was a time when doctors and pharmacies directed patients to flush unused, outdated or unwanted prescription/over-the counter drugs down the toilet or wash them down the sink - those times have changed!

Municipal wastewater treatment plants are not designed to treat water for prescription drugs and/or over-the counter medications and cannot remove most of the chemicals and compounds in medications that are being released directly into our waterways. As such, residents must dispose of the medication in a different way to ensure our streams, lakes and rivers stay viable and healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Easy Steps to Follow (provided by PACE Partners)

1. Talk To Your Pharmacist. Research shows that pharmacists are one of the most accessible healthcare professionals. As medication experts, pharmacists are available to guide you on how to properly dispose of your unused medications.

  • Do not purchase more medication than you need.
  • Ask your pharmacist if they will allow you to return unused medications. If so, ensure that the pharmacy properly disposes of excess medications and does not flush them down a drain.

2. Never flush medications down a drain or toilet . There are several other methods to properly dispose of medications on your own. Residents can:

  • pour liquid medications over cat litter, or some other absorbent material, and seal it in a plastic bag before placing it in the trash;
  • fill pill containers with household glue, remove all personal information, and then place the container in the trash once the glue has dried; or
  • cut trans-dermal patches into small strips, place them in a container and add household glue, or mix them with coffee grounds or cat litter before placing them in the trash.