On Saturday, April 30, 2011, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., communities and local law enforcement agencies will partner with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to hold a national unwanted medicine collection event. If you have medicines that are expired or no longer needed, bring them to the collection event hosted by Mahomet Police Department at Sangamon Elementary School located at 601 E. Main Street in Mahomet, IL.

Controlled, non-controlled, and over-the-counter medications will be collected. You can bring in liquids and creams as long as they are in their original containers with the cap tightly sealed to prevent leakage. Intravenous solutions, injectibles, and syringes will not be accepted.

This upcoming nationwide collection day comes on the heels of the DEA’s first event last September, in which 242,000 pounds—121 tons—of prescription drugs were turned in to nearly 4,100 sites operated by the agency and more than 3,000 state and local law enforcement partners.

The familiar, but improper, methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—pose potential safety, health and environmental hazards. “Pharmaceuticals thrown in the trash can leach into groundwater, while those that are flushed can kill bacteria that break down waste in sewage plants, damage septic systems, and contaminate nearby waterways and harm aquatic wildlife”, said Laura Kammin, pollution prevention program specialist with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant.

Recent studies have identified a wide range of pharmaceutical chemicals in rivers, streams, groundwater, and drinking water nationwide. It has also been shown that some of these compounds are potentially harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms, affecting reproduction and development even at very low concentrations. The long-term impacts of medicine disposal on human health and the health of the environment are not fully known.

“Until there is a national pharmaceutical takeback program that accepts controlled substances, single-day collection events like these are vital to help communities properly dispose of their unwanted medicines,” said Kammin.

“This event provides a great way to clean out your medicine cabinet while protecting human health and safety and reducing environmental impacts,” added Kammin. “Simply mark out any personal information on the product package and bring the medicines to the collection site.” The DEA will be disposing of the materials collected via incineration.

If you do not live in Champaign County, go to the DEA’s website to find a list of currently registered collection sites: www.DEA.gov.

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