Many of you may have read news reports of studies showing trace amounts of pharmaceuticals found in drinking water supplies. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District has been testing samples of wastewater both entering and leaving our treatment plants for years and, indeed, these tests do show various chemicals of concern in very minute quantities — parts per billion or parts per trillion. At present, there is no evidence that these microconstituents are harmful to human health. Detection does not equal risk. Nevertheless, the wastewater treatment process cannot currently remove these trace chemicals.
As a result, I and many others are working to develop a safe, secure way for people to dispose of their unused or expired medicines — both over-the-counter products and prescription drugs — so that they are not flushed down the toilet.
Here are some current disposal options:
Please phone ahead to determine availability and hours.
- City of Chicago
Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facility
1150 N. North Branch, Chicago
Prescription Drop Box at Area Police Stations
Expired and unused pharmaceuticals can be disposed of in drop boxes at the five Chicago Police Department Area Centers. By using the police facilities as a drop-off location, the controlled substances will be deposited safely and kept under observation by law enforcement until they are destroyed. The centers are located at:
- 1718 South State Street
- 5101 South Wentworth Avenue
- 7040 S. Cottage Grove Avenue
- 2255 E. 103rd Street
- 727 E. 111th Street
- 7808 S. Halsted Street
- 1438 W. 63rd Street
- 3420 W. 63rd Street
- 3120 S. Halsted Street
- 3315 W. Ogden Avenue
- 3151 W. Harrison Street
- 1412 S. Blue Island
- 2452 W. Belmont Avenue
- 2150 N. California Avenue
- 5701 W. Madison Street
- 5151 N. Milwaukee Avenue
- 4650 N. Pulaski Road
- 1160 N. Larrabee Avenue
- 850 W. Addison Street
- 5400 N. Lincoln Avenue
- 1900 W. Monterey Avenue
- 6464 N. Clark Street
- 5555 W. Grand Avenue
- Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County
Cities include: Arlington Heights, Barrington, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Kenilworth, Lincolnwood, Morton Grove, Niles, Palatine, Park Ridge, Prospect Heights, Skokie, Wheeling, Wilmette, Winnetka.
Download the SWANCC medical drop off brochure.
- IL Environmental Protection Agency
Will have postings for drop days in Illinois posted on their Web site.
- Lake County
The Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO) currently operates a long-term household chemical waste collection program. Information and a collection schedule can be found on the SWALCO Web site, or call 847.336.9340.
Fire Station #4
1971 Brookdale Rd.
Rock River Reclamation District
255 W. Dundee Road
If you’re looking to start your own disposal program, check out the Illinois Prescription Pill & Drug Disposal Program Network (P2d2).