When leftover medications are flushed down the toilet or washed down the sink, they are sent to a wastewater treatment plant. Sewage treatment removes many toxic pollutants, but not medications, which then enter the Bay via treated wastewater. Unused drugs thrown in the trash end up in landfills and can leach into San Francisco Bay via storm water runoff or groundwater contamination. Pharmaceutical pollution harms fish and wildlife by preventing reproduction, interfering with foraging, and reducing the ability to avoid predators. Eighteen common pharmaceuticals have been detected in the water of South San Francisco Bay. Drugs to treat hypertension, angina, arrhythmia, and migraine, as well as antihistamines, have been found in the tissues of San Francisco Bay mussels.
You can help prevent this pollution. If you have leftover medications, use your county’s drug disposal program, rather than throwing them into the trash or flushing them into the Bay.
Drop-off sites include police stations, fire stations, senior centers, pharmacies, and hazardous waste disposal facilities.
Contra Costa County
Drop-off sites include police stations, sheriff’s departments, hazardous waste facilities, and other sites.
Information: (925) 692-2500
Drop-off sites include pharmacies, police stations, and recycling facilities.
Information: (415) 473-6907
Drop-off sites at clinics, pharmacies, and hazardous waste facilities.
Drop-off sites include pharmacies and police stations.
Information: (415) 355-3700 or (415) 695-7378
San Mateo County
Drop-off sites at police stations.
Information: (650) 372-6200
Santa Clara County
Drop-off sites at pharmacies and other locations.
Periodic prescription drug take-back days.