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Medications & Your Septic System

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Can taking some forms of medications harm a septic system? The short answer? Yes. Some chemicals from medications are not completely metabolized in your body and are expelled in your waste. These chemicals can disrupt the biological action in your tank and drainfield causing it to fill with solids more quickly. More solids in your tank means there is a higher risk of solids flowing into the drainfield leading to septic system failure. 

The best way to ensure your septic system stays healthy and functioning is to provide consistent maintenance and inspections. It is also very important not to flush any medications or household chemicals (antibacterial soaps, harsh cleaning chemicals, chlorine bleach, etc.) down your toilet or sinks. Septic tanks and drain fields depend on both anaerobic and aerobic bacteria to break down the organic waste and clean the water as it is released it into the soil for filtration.

Some steps to protect a costly failure and potential replacement are:

  • Flush only body waste and toilet paper down the toilet
  • Use minimal household chemicals for cleaning
  • Avoid or use minimal amounts of chlorine bleach in your washing machine
  • Have your tank pumped more frequently if someone in your household is taking chemotherapy or antibiotic medications for an extended period
  • When your tank is pumped, ask your pumper to refill it with fresh water to dilute any residual medications
  • Take excess and unwanted chemicals, cleaners, and medications to your local household hazardous waste or medication collection program