pharmaceutical medicine


I recently read that drugs, like Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa and Sarafem, have been detected in fish in the Great Lakes. Is this also bad for the environment? How can we prevent this?



It’s depressing to see what we’re doing to ecosystems throughout our natural environment with irresponsible behaviors, like flushing pharmaceuticals down the toilet.

All unwanted medications should be taken to your local drug take back program. View this list of Indiana counties to find the program nearest you. October 28 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, but you may utilize these local programs year-round.

If you are not able to take unwanted medicine to a take back program, follow these steps to properly dispose of it.

  1. Dissolve tablets or capsules in the original container with a small amount of water. For liquid medications, add sawdust, kitty litter, or flour to the original container.

  2. Remove labels from prescription bottles or completely mark out all patient information.

  3. Put all lids back on the containers tightly and put them in a heavy-duty sealed bag to keep medications from leaking.

  4. Put the sealed bag in your trash so that it is not visible to prevent unintended use or contact.

In fact, pharmaceuticals in our waterways are bad for the environment. Wastewater treatment plants aren’t designed to deal with drugs and they can pass through into rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater. 

In regard to aquatic life, antidepressants can have a similar effect on fish as they have on humans, changing their feeding habits and dulling their survival instincts. Drugs can also affect their reproductive systems. When fish are affected by these drugs it can throw of the delicate ecological balance of rivers, lakes and streams.

Piece out,



Renee Sweany is NUVO's green living advice blogger.