The Environmental Protection Agency is planning to study the effects of unused medications on the environment, and they’re enlisting the help of nursing homes and other healthcare facilities around the country in their research.

The EPA plans to send out a Draft Questionnaire for Unused Pharmaceutical Disposal in the Health Care Industry in 2009. Approximately 3,500 nursing homes, long-term care facilities and hospitals will be asked to describe their pharmaceutical disposal habits over the course of a 30-day period.

EPA officials hope to discover how the unused medication, which is routinely flushed through public water treatment plants and into surface waters, affects the environment and public safety. A final report is expected in 2010.