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Take It Back!

Did you drink someone's antibiotic, antidepressant , blood-pressure medicine, contraceptive, heart medication, steroid and painkiller today? That's quite the chemical cocktail!

A prescription drug Take-Back Day is scheduled for Wednesday, November 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Great Peconic Take-Back Day gives those in the Peconic region an opportunity to safely dispose of unwanted and unused prescription drugs. At the last Peconic Take-Back event, 1200 pounds of pharmaceuticals were collected and properly destroyed by incineration.

So what's all the fuss? Did you know that pharmaceutical compounds are making their way into our ground and surface waters every day? Recent United States Geological Survey studies have found traces of painkillers, estrogen, antidepressants, blood-pressure medicines, antibiotics, heart medications, and steroids in water samples. This is a problem.

Click here for a link to 6 scientific journal articles that discuss some of the issues. Pharmaceuticals in our waters are an emerging and complex environmental issue, and so is the proper disposal of these chemicals. No matter what you hear, proper disposal of prescription drugs does NOT include flushing them down the toilet!

Flushing unwanted medications down the toilet is not the only way that these chemical compounds are entering the environment. They enter our waters through human excrement as well, so anything we can do to lessen the burden on our fragile environment (and sole source of drinking water) would be quite helpful.

Ever hear of the feminization of fishes? This has been reported throughout the world in both freshwater and marine systems. The primary cause for feminizing of fishes is due to synthetic and natural estrogens found in waste water!! 

Frogs are being feminized as well, but not from prescription drugs. Atrazine, a common herbicide (weed killer) is turning boy frogs into girl frogs! They are becoming so completely female that by adulthood, the male frogs can actually produce eggs and mate with other male frogs! The chemicals in atrazine wreak havoc on hormonal systems that guide development not only in frogs, but in fish, birds, and rats as well....but I digress.... this should be the topic of another post....

Not only are studies showing that pharmaceutical hormone exposure is causing reproductive defects in fish, but the development of antibiotic-resistant germs is being caused by environmental exposure to antibiotics as well. I remember the USGS doing a study on pharmaceutics in East Hampton drinking water about ten years ago.... I wonder what the results were. 

Please bring your unwanted prescription drugs to any of the following locations between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on November 14th 2012 for proper disposal: Barth’s Pharmacy (94 Montauk Hwy., East Moriches), Barth’s Drug Store (32 E. Main St., Riverhead), Barth’s Pharmacy (58 Sunset Ave., Westhampton Beach), Center Island Rx (254 W. Montauk Hwy., Hampton Bays), Liggett Drugs (39 W. Montauk Hwy., Hampton Bays), Martin Drugs (849 Old Country Rd., Rte. 58, Riverhead), Park Place Chemists (200 Pantigo Pl., Suite K, East Hampton), Sag Harbor Pharmacy (120 Main St., Sag Harbor), Shelter Island Heights Pharmacy (19 Grand Ave., Shelter Island Heights), Southold Pharmacy (53895 Main Rd., Southold), Southrifty Drug (54 Jagger Lane, Southampton Village), and White’s Pharmacy East Hampton (81 Main St., East Hampton).

If you can't make it to this Take-Back please try to wait for another one. They are becoming quite common. This Take-Back is sponsored by all the pharmacies named above, WLNG, the Southampton Village Police Department, and Emil Norsic and Sons.

If you can't wait for a take-back, PLEASE DON'T FLUSH! Dispose of your unused pharmaceuticals in the trash. Remember to remove the labels that identify the materials as pharmaceuticals (or that could provide personal information about yourself). You can put them in a different container or a small bag as well. You can also dissolve them in a small amount of water or alcohol, or grind them up and mix with coffee grounds or kitty litter and then dispose of them in the trash. Don't try to burn pharmaceuticals on your own. This can create dioxins and other air pollutants....

Last year, 377,000 pounds or 188.5 tons of unwanted or expired medications were collected during the Great American Take-Back. More than 5,300 sites located in all 50 states participated! Since its inception, almost 1 million pounds of prescription drugs have been safely collected and removed from the waste stream, which in turn helps keep these chemicals out of our environment! 

Let's all do our part to keep these chemicals out of the environment. Take it Back!!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Deborah Klughers November 10, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Instead of disposal or incineration of expensive prescription medications, I tried to find a way to donate these medications to people in need. A few US states allow for some kind of redistribution of unused prescription medications, but New York state law prohibits re-dispensing of prescription medications. Federal law prohibits the redistribution of drugs that have been dispensed to consumers as well. I did locate an organization ‘AID for AIDS’, which has a program where you can donate medications related to the treatment of HIV & AIDS. These medications get distributed to people in need who are located in non-US territories. For info, go to http://www.aidforaids.org/index.php/site/programs_services/category/recycling

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