Since its inception about five years ago, the East End Medication Disposal Program has collected 6000 pounds — three tons — of substances. Last year, the Group for the East End, working in partnership with seven local police departments, collected 1872 pounds.
Medication drop boxes permanently located at participating police stations are available for people to use anonymously, safely disposing of unused medications. The goal of the program is to keep potential pollutants out of drinking water.
There was a time when people simply flushed their unwanted meds. But, according to a release from GEE this week, “Studies have found that when prescription and over-the-counter medications are flushed down the toilet, they can contaminate of our drinking water, as well as our bays and harbors.”
Proper disposal of medications also helps prevent drug misuse, abuse, and harm to children, pets, and others. By anonymously disposing of medications at local police stations, you ensure that they do not end up in the wrong hands or the environment.
“Water quality and pollution is a growing concern across the East End, and we must take every step necessary to help protect our bays, harbors, and other waterways,” said Group for the East End president Bob DeLuca. “This pharmaceutical take-back program continues to be successful, and is just one of many innovative local efforts that is breaking new ground in the protection and restoration of our fragile drinking water and surface water resources.”
GEE offered a breakdown of the 1872 pounds of substances collected. Reported numbers from the participating police stations in 2017 include 120 pounds from Sag Harbor, 160 pounds from Shelter Island, 700 pounds from Southold, 300 pounds from East Hampton Town, 220 pounds from East Hampton Village, 172 pounds from Westhampton Beach, and 200 pounds from one collection in Southampton, which has another collection from the end of 2017 waiting to be incinerated. Those remaining numbers are not yet available.
The East End Medication Disposal Program is safe and anonymous, the group’s release emphasizes. After substances are discarded in the drop box, the police department secures them until an officer transports them to the Covanta Incinerator in East Northport. Covanta provides the service free of charge, as do the police departments.
Medications accepted include expired or unwanted over-the-counter medications, including pet medications, prescription drugs including antibiotics and controlled substances, pills, powders, liquids, and EPI pens. Medications will be accepted in any container, bag, bottle, etc. Feel free to black out the label if desired.
Items not accepted include syringes, medical waste, and mercury thermometers.
Each of the five town’s police departments, as well as village PDs in East Hampton, Sag Harbor, and Westhampton Beach are participating. In most cases, the disposal program is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.