Tuesday, April 15, 2008

WLSSD to Host Collection Event for Unwanted Medication

Duluth, MN - The Western Lake Superior Sanitary District will host a free collection event for unwanted or expired medications at its regional Household Hazardous Waste Facility on Saturday, April 26th from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. “Medicine Cabinet Clean-Out Day” is a one-day event offering residents free disposal of unwanted medications in a safe, convenient and environmentally sound manner.

Two previous medication collection events held at WLSSD, residents brought in nearly 600 pounds of unwanted pills and other medication, filling five 55 gallon barrels.
“The first two collection events confirmed that residents are looking for a safe, easy way to dispose of medications,” said Gina Temple-Rhodes, WLSSD Environmental Program Coordinator. “Residents dispose of medications for all sorts of reasons. Medication may be expired or a prescription was changed. Some residents have bags full of medicine bottles. This event offers an easy, safe answer to the disposal question.”

Residents may bring their own or a family member’s unwanted or expired medication to the event for disposal. Drop-off is free and confidential. Residents will use the drive-through area at the Household Hazardous Waste facility during this special event. The facility is located at 2626 Courtland Street in Duluth.

“Unwanted medication should not be flushed or poured down the drain,” said WLSSD Executive Director Kurt N.W. Soderberg. “Although many of us were taught to dispose of medicines this way, we now know that flushing them is not a good idea.”

“Wastewater treatment plants were not designed to remove pharmaceutical substances from wastewater,” Soderberg continued. “Proper disposal of medication helps protect water quality in our region.”

Studies around the United States have found hormones and other pharmaceutical substances in rivers and streams. When medication is flushed, it travels to wastewater treatment plants. Although some medicines break down in treatment, others persist and are discharged into waterways. In the Duluth region, residual medicines can enter the St. Louis River and Lake Superior. Pharmaceutical substances can adversely affect fish and other aquatic life.

Temple-Rhodes recommends that residents attending the event:
Bring prescription or over-the-counter medication in its original container with all information about the medication visible to assist with sorting.

Names and addresses may be covered or scratched out.
Keep medications out of reach of children while waiting for and transporting material to the event.
Keep needles or other medical sharps separate and packaged in rigid containers such as laundry detergent or soda bottles for safe disposal.

WLSSD can only accept medication during special events due to US drug laws. WLSSD employs pharmacists and law enforcement officers for the special event to ensure safe and proper sorting and disposal of all medications. Residents who are unable to attend a disposal event may dispose of unwanted medications in the garbage after properly preparing the medication per Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recommendations. These recommendations can be found at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/oea/hhw/pharmaceuticals.cfm.

This event and two more collection events this year are funded in part by the Coastal Zone Management Act, by NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, in conjunction with Minnesota’s Lake Superior Coastal Program. Additional support was provided by the EPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office.

More information is available at http://www.wlssd.com/pollution_pharmaceutical.php.
Western Lake Superior Sanitary District provides award-winning wastewater and solid waste services to residents, businesses and industries within its 530 square mile legislative boundaries in Southern St. Louis and northern Carlton counties, and is a nationally recognized leader in

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