Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day across the US, when law enforcement teams up with community groups to help consumers safely dispose of their unwanted prescription drugs.
While the campaign was originally launched more than six years ago to address public health and safety due to prescription drug abuse, theft and accidental poisonings, it’s turning out to be important for the environment.
Recent studies funded by Oregon Sea Grant and others have discovered that improperly disposing of unused medicines – by flushing them down toilets or sending them to landfills – can release these drugs into the environment via waterways, where they can accumulate in the tissues of fish and other wildlife with as-yet unknown consequences.
And it’s not just narcotics that are the problem; scientists have found traces of birth control hormones, antibacterial soaps and even caffeine accumulating in fish tissues.
Even discarded pet care products and medications can contribute to the problem – and for this Drug Take-Back Day, selected drop-off spots – including the Benton County, OR. Sheriff’s Department – are accepting those products, too. Contact your closest collection spot (see below) to find out what they accept.
NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Lab and the US Environmental Protection Agency recently worked with students at the Pacific Northwest College of Art to create a set of posters using a salmon-inspired theme to encourage safer disposal of unused pharmaceuticals in Oregon, Washington and California.
During the most recent Take-Back Day, last Septembers, Americans turned in more than 350 tons of prescription drugs at more than 8,000 drop-off sites set up by the DEA and local law enforcement partners. In addition, local law enforcement agencies in many Oregon cities and counties offer year-round collection sites.
Find collection sites near you: