[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
article along.........

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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.               

Virginia Thompson
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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