Tennessee American Water, Hamilton County Coalition & Others Offer Tips to Safely Store and Dispose of Medications

Chattanooga, Tenn. (April 20, 2020) – While the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Drug Take Back event has been cancelled due to current public health guidelines, Tennessee American Water, Hamilton County Coalition and local law enforcement remind residents that proper storage and/or disposal of medications is still important to protect the environment and prevent misuse or accidental overdoses. 

Alternative steps that can be taken during the health emergency are to keep medications locked in a medication lock box or to use Deterra® drug deactivation system pouches to deactivate medication in an environmentally acceptable way.  Information about how to obtain either a lock box or pouch can be found at the Hamilton County Coalition’s website https://www.hccoalition.org/.

“Even during the health emergency, it’s important for us to keep these items out of landfills and water supplies as well as the hands of those who may misuse or abuse them,” said Kitty Vaughn, Tennessee American Water Supervisor of Water Quality and Environmental Compliance. “Water quality is always important, especially now with the emphasis on personal hygiene. We can all do our part to protect our water resources.”

Some permanent drug take back locations are still accepting medications for disposal with proper COVID-19 safety and social distancing precautions in place.  A current list of sites, which includes some area pharmacies, can be found here https://www.hccoalition.org/copy-of-empowering-communities.

Proper storage of medication and disposal of unwanted, unused prescription or over-the-counter drugs (for both pets and people) avoids misuse or unintentional harm to families, pets and the environment. Flushing medications down the toilet and throwing them in the trash are discouraged.

“According to the DEA, medicines left in home cabinets are highly susceptible to misuse and abuse,” said Camilla Bibbs, Executive Director of the Hamilton County Coalition. “We encourage residents to keep track of all medications in their home, and especially now with more time being spent in our homes.”



Tennessee American Water, a subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water services to approximately 380,000 people in Tennessee and north Georgia. With a history dating back to 1886, American Water is the largest and most geographically diverse U.S. publicly traded water and wastewater utility company. The company employs more than 6,800 dedicated professionals who provide regulated and market-based drinking water, wastewater and other related services to 15 million people in 46 states. American Water provides safe, clean, affordable and reliable water services to our customers to make sure we keep their lives flowing. For more information, visit www.tennesseeamwater.com.

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