As the holiday season approaches, many of us look forward to friends and relatives filling our homes for seasonal get togethers. The house is tidy, the guest towels are set out,  and the breakables are tucked away from the reach of little hands.

But what about your used inhalers, medications, and EpiPens? It's important to properly dispose of these items in way that is safe for humans and safe for the environment.

Safe Disposal of Your EpiPen

Auto-injectors thrown into in your household trash cans might prick or injure people or pets in your home. If you have used the auto-injector, return it to its case immediately to help prevent the chance of someone else stabbing themselves with the exposed needle.

There are several options for safely disposing of auto-injectors and medical sharps. These include:
  • Some doctors' offices, hospitals, pharmacies, health departments, and police or fire stations offer drop box disposal or supervised collection sites. Many are free, but it's always best to call first and see if there's a small service fee for disposal.
  • Check with your local pharmacy and find out if they accept medical waste for safe disposal. Some pharmacies also hold events during the year when you can turn in expired or unused medicine.
  • Many cities and counties have household hazardous waste collection programs that cover some medical waste. Contact your local sanitation department to find out if there is a drop-off site available near you.
  • Visit You can search by state to find where you can take needles for safe disposal.

Discarding Used Inhalers

Be careful when discarding used inhalers. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that you always read the "instructions on the labeling of inhalers and aerosol products. These products could be dangerous if punctured or thrown into a fire or incinerator."

Inhalers should not be thrown in the garbage can or container with sharp edges. Most inhalers are considered hazardous waste, and the easiest, safest way to dispose of the empty canister is to give them to your local pharmacy.

Throwing Out Liquid Medication

Liquid medicine, like nebulizer medication, often ends up tossed in the trash or flushed down a toilet or drain. That puts the risks of chemicals and components of these drugs making their way to our lakes, streams, and water supplies. According to the EPA, “the improper disposal of unused medications by flushing them or pouring them down the drain may be harmful to fish, wildlife, and their habitats.”

For the safety of your family and others, the FDA suggests  "pouring liquid medication or pills into a sealable plastic bag or an empty can. Add a substance like kitty litter, sawdust, or used coffee grounds to make the medication less appealing to kids and pets. Seal the container and put it in the trash."

Always remember: Before throwing away your empty medication containers, remove or scratch out the prescription label or any personal information.

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