N.J. considers ban on flushing away medications

New Jersey lawmakers are considering legislation that would prohibit health-care facilities from dumping drugs into sewer systems.

Primary bill sponsor Sen. Kip Bateman said some health-care workers are instructed to get rid of outdated or unused medications by flushing them down the drain.

“As soon as somebody dies, they go in there whether it’s a hospice worker or a health care worker and they flush the medicines down the toilet for obvious reasons they don’t want other individuals taking them, but it’s a real problem,” said Bateman. “I think that if this passes, it will certainly help our water supply.”

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel said antibiotics, hormones and other drugs that end up in drinking water can have an impact on the health of humans and aquatic life.

“There’s so many pharmaceuticals going over the Great Falls on the Passaic that I call it Viagra Falls. There is a real problem,” said Tittel.

Many hospitals and towns collect unwanted drugs on a quarterly basis, and environmentalists would like to see that program expanded.

The Senate’s Environment Committee has approved the bill. It’s still awaiting action in the Assembly.

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