New York Sea Grant is encouraging the public to take expired, unused and unwanted pharmaceuticals to designated retail and law enforcement agency locations on April 28 for National Take Back Day.
This federally designated day for collection of waste pharmaceuticals prevents the entry of products such as antibiotics, blood pressure regulators, pain medications, tranquilizers and hormones into state waterways and drinking supply sources.
“Proper disposal of unused medications is critically important to protect the public drinking water supply and the Great Lakes ecosystem,” said Helen Domske, NYSG coastal education specialist. “Take Back Day sites accepting these pharmaceuticals provide easily accessible drop-off points so everyone can do their part to protect New York’s waters.”
Visit takebackday.dea.gov to find an authorized collection site.
The NYSG website has information about the impact of keeping pharmaceuticals and personal care products out of the Great Lakes and other water sources. The results of a two-year research project funded by NYSG to examine the effectiveness of advanced water treatment options, environmental levels and the potential effects of pharmaceuticals in state waters are expected later this year.
“Research is increasing our understanding of the impact of bioactive chemical substances on the aquatic food web,” Domske said. “For example, research has recently documented the presence of anti-depressants and their metabolites as well as anti-histamines in fish such as largemouth bass, yellow perch, walleye and steelhead trout in the Niagara River. Although researchers believe the levels do not pose a threat to humans eating the fish, they are problematic and one of the reasons we do not want people to flush medicines down the toilet or drain.”
Earlier this year, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced a $2 million pilot pharmaceutical take-back initiative that officially starts this month with pharmacies, hospitals, long-term care facilities and other sites participating in the collection and proper disposal of the unwanted, unused pharmaceuticals.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, 912,305 pounds of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs were collected during the fall 2017 National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
Visit seagrant.sunysb.edu for information.