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PA American Water Protects Against Dangers of Improper Prescription Disposal

MECHANICSBURG, Pa.--()--Pennsylvania American Water is joining forces with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to encourage participation in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on April 27. This awareness campaign encourages area residents to Business news 1clean out their medicine cabinets and turn medications in safely and anonymously at their local collection site on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For those who are unable to participate, the campaign teaches the public how to conduct proper disposal at home.

“Far too often, unused prescription drugs find their way into the wrong hands and into our community water supplies, potentially causing environmental harm,” said Jennifer Heymann, source water protection program manager, for American Water’s Mid-Atlantic Division. “The best and most cost-effective way to ensure safe water at the tap is to keep our water supplies clean. It is important to prevent pollutants, including pharmaceutical products, from entering our water supplies. That’s why we strongly encourage the public to take advantage of collection sites or to learn how to safely dispose of these materials at home.”

Pennsylvania American Water advises that common methods for disposing of unused medicines, such as flushing them down the toilet or throwing them directly in the trash, are ineffective and can even be dangerous. These methods may pose potential safety and health hazards both for the person disposing the medicine and for the environment.

How to properly dispose of expired, unused and unwanted medications:

The best way to dispose of prescription drugs is to drop them off at free drug take-back events in your area, which will ensure disposal in an environmentally safe manner and help prevent pill theft and abuse. If you are unable to do so, follow these steps suggested by the Food & Drug Administration to dispose of your medications at home:

  1. Take the medication out of its original container(s).
  2. Mix the medication with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds, cat litter or vegetable oil.
  3. Put the mixture in a disposable container with a lid, such as a milk carton, margarine tub or sealable bag.
  4. Conceal personal information on the drug container, including Rx number, by using a permanent marker or duct tape, or by scratching it off.
  5. Place the sealed container with the mixture and the empty drug containers in the trash.

“At Pennsylvania American Water, water quality and safety are our top priorities,” adds Heymann. “While the Environmental Protection Agency sets water quality standards intended to protect public health, it currently does not require water utilities to monitor for pharmaceuticals in water and has not set treatment standards for pharmaceuticals in water. However, research studies have shown that the treatment processes used by Pennsylvania American Water can be effective for removing many pharmaceutical compounds, and we continue to treat and deliver water that meets or exceeds all applicable drinking water standards.”

Pennsylvania American Water sponsors a number of drop box locations across its service territory for residents to safely dispose of unwanted drugs for free, no questions asked. Some are even available 24/7. For locations and more information, visit

Furthermore, Pennsylvania American Water maintains a comprehensive environmental policy that includes responsible business practices, compliance with environmental laws and regulations, and stewardship of natural resources. The company voluntarily participates in consumer advocacy and awareness programs, offers community and school outreach on watershed protection and water conservation, and partners with local law enforcement agencies and health agencies to promote drug-take back events.

For more information on Pennsylvania American Water, visit For more information on National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, visit Year-round collection sites can be found on this searchable DEA site.

Pennsylvania American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to approximately 2.4 million people. With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 7,100 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to an estimated 14 million people in 46 states and Ontario, Canada. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit and follow American Water on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

published | April 29, 2019