[Pharmwaste] TN article on DEA collection event

Tenace, Laurie Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us
Tue Oct 2 09:46:24 EDT 2012

Interesting that this article talks about environmental concerns but not drug diversion - Laurie


Pounds of pills collected: Department takes in drugs to decrease water contamination

<< >>  The Sevierville Police Department held a Drug Take Back Initiative from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the police department lobby Saturday.

The initiative is part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) national effort to reduce drugs in the water supply as part of the Emergency Management Program. Pigeon Forge PD also participated, taking in more than 20 pounds of medications in their event, a representative reported.

"Water systems do not presently have the ability to filter most medications, because the medications are made to be taken in the body," Lt. Ken Garner of the Sevierville Police Department said. "Our biggest problem is that they get into the water system and build up, and you get them in your drinking water. Knoxville did a test several years ago of their municipal drinking water just out of the tap. They found measurable traces of lithium and other narcotics."

Even though the percentage of these drugs in the water system is slight, Garner explained that even a small increase in a daily intake can be harmful to the body, especially for those who are prescribed a specific amount of a drug.

"Or the other way: If penicillin is showing up in your water system at .2 percent, and you're allergic to penicillin, you may not have an initial reaction, but if it builds up, you may end up having a negative reaction," he said.

The Sevierville Police Department has been taking part in the collection of prescription drugs for almost five years. Two years ago, the DEA asked the department to become one of its national partners by operating as a drug collection point.

Through the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), the state provided the station with a drop box for prescription drugs.

The drop box is available anytime, even when the lobby is closed - dispatch can buzz people in.

"Some people can't get out on the day we do a take-back, or they can't get here during the day when we're open in the lobby," Garner said. "So we make sure it's available to them 24/7."

On the drop box is a listing of all the drugs people can drop off, including prescription meds, over-the-counter meds, pet meds, and more. The box also lists drugs that are not allowed.

"Illegal drugs and narcotics are not supposed to be turned in here," Garner said. "We're not supposed to take illegal drugs. But if they're still dropped off, we'll still dispose of it."

Garner asks that liquid medications be sealed in leak-proof containers.

"Ones that have been opened are very difficult for us to take," he said. "We have to find a way to secure them safely before we destroy them."

The department destroys all the drugs by incineration.

Garner said the drop box takes in more and more drugs every year.

"First year total collection was 15 pounds, second year was 40 pounds," he said. "Right now for 2012, we're looking at 200 pounds by the end of the year."

Garner said the Drug Take Back Initiative is publicized in the media, which has contributed to the increase in drugs being dropped off.

"I think that's where we're seeing a lot more of our increase," he said. "The medication's been there, but people just didn't know. So now they're seeing a lot more in the media about it, and they're bringing the stuff in."

Read more: The Mountain Press - Pounds of pills collected Department takes in drugs to decrease water contamination

Laurie Tenace
Environmental Specialist III
Waste Reduction Section
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
2600 Blair Stone Rd., MS 4555
Tallahassee FL 32399-2400
P: 850.245.8759
F: 850.245.8811
Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us
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