Why Disposal Programs Are Needed
Unwanted and outdated pharmaceuticals pose serious safety and environmental threats ranging from child poisonings, illegal use, and contamination of our streams and drinking water.
- Unwanted pharmaceuticals should not be poured down the sink or flushed down the toilet. Conventional wastewater treatment is not effective at eliminating the majority of pharmaceutical compounds, whether passed through the body or flushed down the toilet as a disposal technique. As a result, pharmaceuticals are now found at very low levels in surface waters, streams, septic tanks, tap water and waste water effluent. These levels are unable to induce acute effects in humans as of yet, i.e., they're far below the recommended prescription dose, but have been found to affect aquatic ecosystems.
- Prescription drugs, non prescription drugs and supplements are involved in more than half of unintentional child poisioning incidents. Each year, unintentional poisonings from consumer products commonly found in the home kill about 30 children and prompt more than 2 million calls to the nation's poison control centers. More than 90% of these calls involve poisonings in the home. On average, each year an estimated 80,000 children are treated in hospital emergency departments for unintentional poisonings.
- Prescription drug abuse is a serious and growing problem in our communities. Abuse of medicines is increasing rapidly. The consequences are serious. Drug overdoses have surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental deaths in Washington. The majority of overdoses involve prescription opiate pain relievers. Misused prescription drugs are the illicit drugs of choice among 12- and 13-year olds. For the first time among teens, there are as many new abusers of prescription drugs as marijuana abusers.
There are currently three pilot programs available free to Snohomish County residents (see below), and Snohomish County is working with other interested parties to develop a long-term program whereby drug companies provide a collection program for unwanted pharmaceuticals from residential sources. Legislation is proposed in Washington State for a product stewardship funding system but the program is not in place at this time. Voluntary medicine disposal locations and some pharmacies demonstrate the strong community demand for proper drug disposal, but long-term funding is needed. Visit www.takebackyourmeds.org or contact your state legislator for more information.
Current Medicine Return Pilot Programs
In Snohomish County . . . To provide county residents with a free, easy, secure and responsible way to properly and securely dispose of unwanted drugs, law enforcement agencies and other partners have established prescription drug drop-off locations throughout Snohomish County. These law enforcement locations accept narcotics and prescribed controlled substances, as well as other medications. Several Bartell Drugs and Group Health Cooperative locations also collect drugs, but not narcotics. View collection locations and information on what materials are and are not accepted in Snohomish County.
In Washington State . . . Pharmacies and clinics are stepping up to the plate and participating in pilot demonstration programs to accept unwanted medications from residents. However, pharmacy-based locations do NOT accept narcotics and prescribed controlled substances. View collection locations and information on what materials are and are not accepted.
Call the program information line at 425-388-3199.
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