Dear Annie: How does one dispose of unused medication? I am a member of a non-advocacy group interested in the protection and improvement of our watershed and creek. One of our members said if we are asking people not to put anything non-biodegradable down drains, why are we instructing people to discard old prescriptions and other outdated medicines in the toilet?
Our sewage treatment facilities are not designed to filter out pharmaceuticals, and those of us using septic tanks and cesspools are introducing this toxic waste directly into the water table, where we and our neighbors are pumping it up and drinking it. Untreated.
Studies have shown large trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in our surface water, as well as in fish. How can we safely discard these used prescriptions in a more environmentally friendly way? Can they be returned to the drugstore for recycling? Please help. Dan Troge, Conservation Advisory Council and the Fishkill Creek Watershed Committee, N.Y.
Dear Dan Troge: We thought your question was interesting, and found it a little frightening that we may be getting anti-depressants and hormone therapy through our water. We spoke to Phillippa Cannon at the EPA, who told us there are no federal rules for disposing of unused or old medication. The EPA does not recommend flushing them. It says to take such medication to Household Hazardous Waste Events. (You can contact your state environmental agency to find out when and where.) You also can call (800) CLEANUP (800-253-2687) (www.1800cleanup.org) for information.
We also suggest checking your local pharmacy. Walgreens will accept the return of many prescription drugs. CVS Pharmacy recently worked with the EPA on a pilot program in Maine in which folks returned unused or old prescription drugs for disposal. Many pharmacies in Canada have recycling programs, and Health Canada is hoping to develop a national education campaign on the proper disposal for products regulated under the Food and Drug Act.
Dear Annie: We have a co-worker who talks baby talk all day. Why would anyone say to her co-workers, "Look at the birdie," or, "I have to go potty"? And she uses the tone of voice of a 3-year-old. It drives us crazy.
She's been doing this for months and obviously thinks it's cute. It's not. It's embarrassing. Clients can hear her. We all get along in this office and don't want to report this to the boss. How do we get her to act her age? Sick of Gaga-Googoo
Dear Gaga: Somewhere along the line, your co-worker got the impression that baby talk made her adorable. One of you should take her aside privately and tell her that it is unprofessional and she should not do it in the office lest clients overhear. Let's hope that gets the point across before you stick a pacifier in her mouth.
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