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Don’t Flush Pills: Here is why

How flushing your pills could be harming your community.

Most people would encourage you to flush your pills, especially if you are struggling with education. However, the next time you need to throw some out, skip the toilet and bring them to your local police station to be disposed of properly.

When we flush ibuprofen down the toilet or urinate medication out, it goes into our local lakes and streams. What’s so bad? Ibuprofen has a poor water solubility with less than one milligram dissolving in one millimeter of water; This means our marine life is being affected by ibuprofen.

A fourteen-day study performed by Lars-Henrik Heckmann on the effect of acetaminophen on Daphnia Magna concluded the DM received chronic toxicity. No matter what solution of ibuprofen was in the water, all reproduction rates dropped immensely. The highest solution of ibuprofen even dropped the survival rate.

Ibuprofen doesn’t just kill Daphnia Magna (4), another study done by Linda Kumblad on Baltic Sea Blue Mussels exposes the organisms to acetaminophen and propranolol. Both medicines proved to have physiological effects on the mussels; the metabolism rate of the species slowed down significantly, and basic motor functions failed to happen.

Just by focusing on ibuprofen, we see our aquatic organisms are negatively affected by pills; Other pills such as oxycodone are bound to harm the environment even more.

As mentioned above, most communities have a designated medication disposal place. For my area, it is the local police station, but check with your local county!

(1) Ericson, Hanna & Thorsén, Gunnar & Kumblad, Linda. (2010). Physiological effects of diclofenac, ibuprofen and propranolol on Baltic Sea blue mussels. Aquatic toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands). 99. 223-31. 10.1016/j.aquatox.2010.04.017.

(2) Heckmann, Lars-Henrik & Callaghan, Amanda & L Hooper, Helen & Connon, Richard & Hutchinson, Thomas & Maund, Stephen & Sibly, Richard. (2007). Chronic Toxicity of Ibuprofen to Daphnia magna: Effects on Life History Traits and Population Dynamics. Toxicology letters. 172. 137-45. 10.1016/j.toxlet.2007.06.001.

(3) Mandal, Ananya. “Ibuprofen Chemistry.”,, 18 Nov. 2013,

(4) Daphnia Magna is a small planktonic crustacean that belongs to the subclass Phyllopoda.

Photo by from Pexels

1 comment on “Don’t Flush Pills: Here is why

  1. Great article!! Another great way to dispose of pills is by saving coffee grounds. The highly acidic grounds dissolve all types of pills nearly instantly! We need to pay to dispose of pills locally, so this has been a cheap and effective alternative. 🙂


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