Pill round-up: MWRD wants your unused medication

Pill round-up: MWRD wants your unused medication

(Sarah Macmillan via Flickr)

Valium, adderall, warfarin — if it’s common medication in the general population, it’s a common water contaminant. Pharmaceutical products routinely enter the ecosystem, altering the behavior of fish and tainting the drinking water supplies of 40 million Americans.

To help cut back on that contamination, The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is participating in a national drug “take-back” event, inviting Chicagoans to anonymously dispose of their unused and unwanted medication.

MWRD has participated in all five national drug collection events, which are organized nationally by the Drug Enforcement Administration. For the first time, MWRD will weigh Saturday’s haul to assess the program’s reach.

Drugs still make their way into our water, said Thomas Granato of MWRD’s monitoring and research division, once they’ve passed through the body. But destroying unused medication eliminates a preventable source of the pollution.

Granato said it’s not currently possible for the District to remove pharmceutical contaminants from wastewater once they’ve made it out into the environment. MWRD hands the medication they collect over to police, who have it incinerated.

Collection will be at the main gate of MWRD’s three treatment facilities, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

  • O’Brien Water Reclamation Plant, 3500 Howard Street, Skokie, Ill.
  • Stickney Water Reclamation Plant, 6001 W. Pershing Rd., Cicero, Ill.
  • Calumet Water Reclamation Plant, 400 E. 130th St., Chicago.