Pharmaceuticals: Taking Action to Protect the Commonwealth's Waters

Save Fish Don't Flush - graphic by Nancy TurkleThe NRWA encourages everyone to dispose of unused pharmaceuticals (including veterinary medicines) safely at permanent drop boxes located throughout our watershed. Service is free and anonymous. Watershed locations.   Other locations. Please note that many sites do not accept sharps; see links below for sharps disposal below.

Medicines flushed down the drain or disposed of in our landfills can contaminate our lakes and streams, which can hurt fish and other aquatic wildlife, and may end up in our drinking water.

Did you know?

  • Wastewater treatment plants and septic systems are not designed to remove these contaminants.
  • Some medications, such as hormones and antidepressants, include endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), which interfere with the reproduction and normal growth of many aquatic species, such as frogs and fish.

You can help with one simple step! Unused drugs deposited at permanent drop box sites are properly disposed of through incineration. Reducing the amount of chemicals flushed down the drain will benefit humans, fish and other aquatic life. Learn more about the impact of prescription drugs on water quality.

Dispose of your unused medications safely, and pass the word to your family, friends, and co-workers. Help to protect our water and our communities!

Massachusetts Environmental Trust logoNRWA's "Pharmaceuticals: Taking Action to Protect the Commonwealth's Waters" project is funded by a grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust*. 

Project partners

MA Dept of Conservation and Recreation logoCity of Worcester logoMA Dept. of Environmental Protection logoFallon Health logoMontachusett Public Health Network logo

Links of Interest

US EPA: Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products as Pollutants

MA Dept. of Environmental Protection: Research & Technical Information

MA Dept. of Public Health: Drug Control Program

NH Dept. of Environmental Services: Medicine Disposal Information

NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation: Drugs in Our Waters

Sharps disposal in MA

Sharps disposal in NH


*MET grants are supported by the sale of environmental license plates, including “Right Whale and Roseate Terns”, “Leaping Brook Trout”, and “Blackstone Valley Mill”. Proceeds from the sale of the plates to more than 70,000 Massachusetts Residents have funded more than $16 million in grants for environmental projects across the state. To order a license plate, visit your local Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, or log on to