Illinois Prohibits Health Facilities from Flushing Meds

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on Aug. 10 signed several key environmental bills, including one that will prohibit health care institutions from flushing unused medications into public wastewater. Other legislation will track water usage by high capacity wells throughout the state.

“This action is another important step in protecting our state’s precious natural resources,” said Quinn. “Keeping our water safe from unused medications and tracking water usage will help us preserve our waterways for future generations.”

Senate Bill 1919 creates the Pharmaceutical Disposal Act and was sponsored by Sen. Susan Garrett (D-Lake Forest) and Rep. Karen May (D-Highwood). The new law provides that health care institutions may not discharge, dispose, flush, pour or empty any unused medication into a public wastewater collection system or septic system. Violators are subject to a fine.

"For years, disposing unused or expired medicines in wastewater was common, even recommended practice. Today, we’re making clear how serious we are at stopping this practice before Illinois faces an environmental or community health crisis," said Sen. Garrett.

Another measure signed into law today, Senate Bill 2184, increases regulation of high capacity wells. Those who want to develop a high capacity well will be required to notify their local Soil and Water Conservation District. Additionally, anyone responsible for a high capacity well must participate in the Illinois Water Inventory Program by reporting how much water they are taking out of wells and aquifers. This legislation was sponsored by Sen. Garrett and Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Des Plaines).

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