Most of the time when we are talking about proper disposal of Household Hazardous Materials, we are talking about cleaners, paint, paint products, driveway sealer, automotive fluids and the like. But, there are other waste materials that need special handling to avoid environmental and health hazards. Unwanted pharmaceuticals and sharps require special care when it is time to dispose of them.

Unwanted Medicines
Whatever goes down the drain ends up back in our water system. That’s why pharmaceuticals should never be flushed down the toilet or poured down the drain. If you live in a town, your water is treated at the wastewater treatment facility and sent back out into a river or stream. If you have a septic system, your water will eventually filter into the groundwater (this is also where you are getting drinking water from your well). Although medications can be life-saving for us, they can be life-threatening to aquatic life. Plus, extended, low-level exposures can be damaging to human health.

Fortunately, with the help of local law enforcement, there are now four, safe, on-going disposal options available across the community.  Currently, unwanted medicine drop boxes are available at the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department (available 24/7 in the lobby of the Hendricks County Jail), the Avon Police Department and the Plainfield Police Department (available during normal business hours) and near the Women’s Center at IU West Hospital in Avon. Unwanted medication can be dropped for free. Personal information can be marked out, but users are asked to leave medicines in the original containers so that the name of the drug is visible.

Medical Sharps
Medical sharps such as syringes, lancets and needles also pose environmental and health hazards if not disposed of properly. Solid waste workers–the waste haulers and recycling center works–that handle the trash and recycling once homeowners set it at the curb for removal are at the most risk when sharps end up in the trash. Just like unwanted medicines, sharps should never be flushed down a toilet or rinsed down a drain as doing so will create a dangerous situation for workers at the waste water treatment plant.

Thanks to a new a partnership between the District and the Hendricks County Health Department called the Safe Sharps Disposal Program, residents can now obtain free sharps containers that once full, can be exchanged for a new, empty container. The sharps collected through the program will be managed and destroyed in a safe manner through a medical waste contractor. Questions about the Safe Sharps Disposal Program should be directed to the Hendricks County Health Department at 745-9222.

Medical sharps and unwanted pharmaceuticals are also accepted from Hendricks County households at the District’s five Tox-Away Days. Please note that medical sharps must be in a rigid, covered container to be accepted at a Tox-Away Day event.  Approved containers include FDA-cleared sharps containers, hard plastic laundry detergent bottles or cat litter containers. No coffee containers, water or soda bottles or plastic bags.

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