Tuesday, January 12, 2010

WLSSD to Host Collection Event for Unwanted Medication

The Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) will host a free collection event for unwanted or expired medications at its regional Household Hazardous Waste Facility on Friday, January 15th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. “Medicine Cabinet Clean-Out Day” is a one-day event offering residents free, safe disposal of unwanted medications. Due to US drug laws, medications can only be accepted at these specially-staffed events.

“Judging from the large response to our last collection event held in November, there are still many old, expired or unwanted medications in homes throughout the area,” said Gina Temple-Rhodes, WLSSD Environmental Program Coordinator. “Some of the medication we collected dated back to 1956! To avoid the risk of accidental poisonings or potential abuse of these drugs, unneeded medication should not be stored. It’s a good idea to dispose of old, unwanted medication promptly. Since medication should not be flushed down the drain, this event is a great opportunity to clean out your medicine cabinet. Mercury thermometers will also be accepted for recycling.”

SMDC and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department will partner with WLSSD to present this medication disposal opportunity, providing necessary pharmacist and law enforcement support.

When medications are flushed down the drain, they travel to wastewater treatment plants. Many cannot be removed before the water is discharged into waterways. Pharmaceutical substances and hormones may adversely affect fish and other aquatic life.

“While research into new ways to remove substances from water is ongoing, it’s better to prevent pollution rather than trying to clean it up after it occurs,” said Marianne Bohren, WLSSD’s Executive Director. “Properly disposing of medication is a good first step toward protecting our local waters.”

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.

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 U.S. drug laws. Pharmacists and law enforcement officers participate in 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 destroying the medication per Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recommendations. These recommendations can be found at http://www.pca.state.mn.us/oea/hhw/pharmaceuticals.cfm

More information is available on WLSSD’s website at 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 pollution prevention.