Back to Top

How Prescription Drugs Negatively Affect Your Septic System

A septic tank
Millions of people take medication every day to treat their medical issues. However, much of this medication ends up in people's plumbing systems, including septic systems. Here is a look at what prescription drugs can do to your septic system and what you can do to mitigate the effects.

Why Medication in Your Septic System Is Bad

Many medications strongly affect the bacteria in and the natural process of your septic tank. Since not all medication is the same or has the same effects, some types of medication pose more of a danger than others.

For example, antibiotics are the worst offenders. Since the sole purpose of an antibiotic is to limit or kill microorganisms, you can find yourself with a septic system that refuses to work as intended.

In some extreme cases, too much medication entering the septic tank can create a resistance to bacteria. You can effectively kill off the colonies of helpful bacteria in your septic tank, making it unusable.

Another danger is if the contaminated waste from the septic tank gets out and seeps into the ground. The contaminated water can enter the groundwater or other nearby water sources. As these sources are often people and animals' drinking water, contaminated groundwater could potentially lead to drug resistance and behavior changes.

In all of these ways, medication in your septic tank can create large problems for you, your home, and your environment.

How Medication Gets Into Your Septic System

Medications can get into your septic system because you or someone else flushes them. Often, when people are done with medication, they flush the rest. Flushing medication is a bad idea, even if the medication is relatively safe over the counter medication.

Another way medication enters the septic system is from the waste of people on medication. Your body can break down many drugs, but not always. Sometimes, the medication also leaks out through your sweat.

You may not think these trace amounts pose a risk to your septic system, but they do. The stronger the medication, the more risk it poses to your septic tank's bacteria.

What to Do to Keep Medication Out of Your Septic System

Keeping medication from reaching the septic tank and beyond requires you to show care when using medication.

Don't Flush Any Medications

Some medications aren't that harmful to the septic system but err on the side of caution. You should never let anything enter your drains except water and waste. Many places offer takeback and disposal programs for medications. You can also get rid of medications in your trash if you have to.

Some medications specifically say to flush them if you cannot dispose of them another way. In such cases, go ahead and flush them. Typically, these warnings are there if the medication is so dangerous that keeping it around for any reason represents a serious risk.

Do Inspect Your Septic System

If you're taking medication for a few days, you may not have much to worry about. If you plan to take medication for several weeks or longer, then you should look at your septic system more frequently. If you will take medication for the long term, you may need to pump your septic tank more frequently.

Do Speak With a Professional Septic Service

A septic service can help you mitigate how much medication enters your septic system. The service may also have some solutions for dealing with the medication that does enter the tank.

For example, a septic service may add a sewage screen or increase the amount of good bacteria in the tank. The septic service can also add clean water to help dilute the medication in the tank.

Medication in your septic system doesn't have to turn out badly. As long as you do what's needed and speak with a professional septic service, things will turn out fine. If you have any concerns about what's in your septic tank, contact the septic tank professionals at Chuck Keene Septic Tank Pumping Service today.