(CNN)Patricia Deesy, a registered nurse, is worried about the drinking water in her home state of North Carolina.
When hospitals pour drugs down the drain
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"When I started out in nursing almost 30 years ago, policy at hospitals was to waste partial doses of narcotics in the sharps containers," Deesy said. "These containers would then be incinerated by a company that picked them up when they became full."
Yet this incineration caused air pollution, Deesy said, so over time, hospitals shifted to "dumping the containers into landfills."
"People would actually break into the containers and steal the wasted meds and syringes and use them," said Deesy, who lives near Charlotte. As a contract nurse, she has worked "for just about every hospital within two hours of my home."
Today, the policy "in every facility that I am aware of" is to "waste" unused medicines down the sink or toilet.