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Kids-water-Rx-awarenessRiverSmart Rx: Safe drug disposal protects people, fish, and wildlife

Take advantage of two new permanent drug disposal dropboxes located in Missoula and Stevensville

It's easy to take action to protect our rivers and streams.  Clean out your medicine cabinets of any unused or expired medications (over-the-counter as well as prescription drugs), and bring them down to one of two new permanent disposal dropboxes in Missoula or Stevensville. Or, drop off unused medications at the upcoming Prescription Drug Take Back Day at Southgate Mall on Saturday, April 26 between 10a-2p. 


In Missoula: Drop offs are accepted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the Police Department, located in City Hall at 435 Ryman Street.  The drop box is inside the south door, on the back (parking lot side) of the building, facing the Mountain Line bus transfer area.  Drop-offs are confidential and free.  Items that CANNOT be accepted: needles, chemo/radioactive drugs, non-pharmaceutical waste.  Drugs are destroyed via incineration.  For more information, please visit the Missoula City-County Health Department webpage, or contact Kari Sproull at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

In Stevensville: Drop offs are accepted 7 days a week via a supervised TakeAway Box at Valley Drug & Variety, located at 301 Main Street.  Hours are Monday through Friday, 9am to 7pm, Saturday 9am to 6pm, and Sunday 10am to 4pm. Drugs are taken away and transported by Sharps Environmental Services, and destroyed at a commercial treatment facility in Carthage, Texas.  The waste is repurposed into PELLA-DRX, a clean raw material used in a variety of industrial applications. Items that CANNOT be accepted include controlled substances or narcotics-- these can be taken to the Stevensville Police Station.  Visit or find Valley Drug & Variety on Facebook.


Why do we need a safe disposal method?

Certain pharmaceutical drugs, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs, have been detected in lakes, rivers, and groundwater across the globe.  Scientists generally agree that aquatic life is at increased risk due to the increasing amount of drugs in our water.

How do these drugs enter our rivers, streams, and groundwater in the first place?  Industry, hospitals, and medical centers contribute a fair share, but households also add to the problem.  People often dispose of unused or unwanted prescription drugs or other medications by flushing them down the toilet, but flushing is NOT a safe method of disposal. Municipal sewage treatment plants, as well as individual septic systems, are not equipped to filter the drugs from the water, meaning that drugs and chemicals often pass right through treatment centers and end up in our waterways.

Proper disposal not only protects fish and wildlife, but also helps our community by keeping unused prescription drugs out of the hands of abusers.

Other Resources:


"Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products in Drinking Water Supplies": An FAQ from The Groundwater Foundation

"Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, and Other Organic Wastewater Contaminants in U.S. Streams": A US Geological Survey Fact Sheet

"Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water": A Resource by the Utah State University Cooperative Extension

April 2011: "Like Water for Chemicals": An article by the Missoula Independent