[Pharmwaste] Elk County,
PA to hold medicine collection event on June 7
Thompson.Virginia at epamail.epa.gov
Thompson.Virginia at epamail.epa.gov
Tue May 6 08:09:57 EDT 2008
Here is a link to an article from the Courier Express in northern
Pennsylvania about a pharms collection event to be held on June 7th in
Elk County, PA. Thanks to Arianne Proctor of PA DEP for passing this
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DEP, Elk County to hold medicine disposal event
RIDGWAY - Don't flush it!
Last week, the first Department of Environmental Protection collection
of pharmaceuticals in Pennsylvania was approved. The medicine disposal
opportunity will take place from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 7, and
is sponsored by the Elk County Recycling Office in partnership with
Elk Regional Medical Center. The collection will take place in the
hospital's Education Center at the St. Marys campus on Johnsonburg
"From vitamins to cough syrup, Tylenol to pet meds, even
prescriptions," Elk County Recycling and Solid Waste Coordinator Bekki
Titchner said. "If you don't need it, want it, use it - please bring
it to the collection."
The collection is free to residents despite its $4,750 price tag.
Partial funding for the project is being provided through the
Department of Environmental Protection's Household Hazardous Waste
program. Titchner said the bulk of the money was spent on advertising
and to pay the hazardous household waste company to take the
"Almost one year ago I read information about pharmaceuticals getting
into the waterways. The U.S. Geological Survey found them in about 80
percent of stream water they tested between 1999-2000," Titchner said.
"That was the impetus which lead me to look into this issue."
According to an Associated Press investigation, an array of
pharmaceuticals ranging from mood stabilizers to sex hormones have
been found in the drinking supplies of at least 41 million Americans.
Although the chemicals are measured in parts per billion or trillion,
the presence of varieties of chemicals in water consumed by the masses
is heightening some scientists' worries about the long-term effects of
drinking this kind of water.
Although Titchner is unaware of such pharmaceutical testing happening
in the area, she said sewage treatment facilities generally are not
geared to take all pharmaceutical residue out of drinking water. On
March 9, the AP reported the federal government does not require any
testing and hasn't set safety limits for drugs in water.
"Scientists are currently looking into the affects of multiple low
dose drugs on the water and on our health. It is hard to believe five
different medications taken in low doses doesn't have an affect on
us," Titchner said. "This collection seemed like the responsible thing
to do, and it didn't seem like it was out of the scope of our office."
Titchner said the medications reach the water system because people
flush their medications down the toilet. Also, when medications are
taken, go through a person's body, and the remains end up in the water
system after going through sewage treatment.
The AP reported the number of medications Americans have been taking
is on the rise. According to IMS Health and The Nielsen Co., over the
past five years, the number of U.S. prescriptions rose 12 percent to a
record 3.7 billion, while nonprescription drug purchases held steadily
around 3.3 billion.
For these reasons, residents are urged to bring expired, unwanted or
unidentifiable prescriptions and medicines, vitamins and nutritional
supplements, veterinary medications, over-the-counter medicines, and
epi-pens and inhalers.
"Please do not bring sharps (needles) or medical waste of any kind,"
Titchner said. "For more information about how to dispose of this kind
of waste please contact our office at 814-776-5373."
A pharmacist will be on-site to separate the controlled and
non-controlled substances. If the pharmacist cannot determine what the
medication is, it will be automatically treated as controlled
substances for the purpose of safety.
Representatives from the St. Marys City Police Department will also be
on-site. As controlled substances are regulated by the federal
government, these collections will be transported by the sheriff's
office for incineration at a secure location.
A hazardous waste company will be on-site to get rid of the remaining
medicines for incineration at a hazardous waste facility. Titchner
said incineration is the preferred way to get rid of the substances.
"Please bring medications in their original containers, although we
will accept them without," Titchner said.
Titchner urges participants to use a marker to cross personal
information off of prescription bottles, but leave the information
about the medication visible. She also hopes having the collection at
the hospital will make residents more comfortable and provide them a
certain amount of anonymity if they are concerned about others knowing
about their medications.
A survey will be taken of participants so statistics about the area
and if residents would use the service again. No personal information
will be requested.
Titchner said if the event is successful, she hopes funding can be
secured for the collection to be held on a quarterly basis at the
Partners in this event include: Elk Regional Health Center, City of
St. Marys police, Elk County Sheriff's office, Elk County
Commissioners, and the Elk County Solid Waste Authority.
Sustainable Healthcare Sector Coordinator
Office of Environmental Innovation (3EA40)
US Environmental Protection Agency Region 3
1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
Voice: (215) 814-5755; Fax (215) 814-2783
thompson.virginia at epa.gov
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