[Pharmwaste] CA collections of drugs

Tenace, Laurie Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us
Mon May 7 09:30:26 EDT 2007

San Mateo County Times, CA - Apr 24, 2007
8 cities join drug drop-off effort
Medicine disposal soon to be available at 10 county locations
By Rebekah Gordon, STAFF WRITER

REDWOOD CITY - Eight more cities are joining San Mateo County's
pharmaceutical drop-off program, bringing the total number of drop-off
locales to 10. 
Atherton, Hillsborough, Burlingame, South San Francisco, San Mateo and
Belmont have added receptacles for unwanted or expired over-the-counter or
prescription drugs - including controlled substances - at their police
departments. San Carlos will not have its own location, but will piggyback on
Belmont's, and Foster City will do likewise with San Mateo. 
Millbrae is expected to join the program in May, which could bring the total
number of participating jurisdictions to 13. 
In just six months at four pilot locations - Daly City, Pacifica and San
Bruno police departments and the Sheriff's Office in Redwood City - the
program collected about 1,200 pounds of pharmaceuticals. 
"The public need is incredibly apparent," said San Mateo County Board of
Supervisors Vice President Adrienne Tissier, who spearheaded the program. 
Disposal has cost about $1.57 per pound, for a total of less than $1,900. 
"The dollars associated with this are extremely minimal," Tissier said. "That
isn't a whole lot that we have to pay to take care of our environment, to
take care of seniors, to take care of our teenagers." 
The program was started partly out of concern for the effects of
toilet-flushed drugs on water-dwelling creatures. Sewer treatment plants,
designed to treat human waste and biodegradable material, are not equipped to
filter out minute amounts of chemicals. Studies show that drug remnants are
being absorbed into the endocrine systems of fish and amphibians. 
The program also is designed to protect seniors who tend to let old drugs
accumulate and thus create a risk for accidentally taking the wrong drug. 
Drugs lying around also are a hazard for curious toddlers and for teenagers
who can see them as an invitation for recreational use. 
The program "appears to be" the only one in the country that allows for
year-round collection of all types of pharmaceuticals in one receptacle,
including controlled substances, said Alexis Strauss, the director of the
Water Division for the Pacific Southwest Region of the Environmental
Protection Agency. 
She called the program "extraordinarily convenient." 
Other jurisdictions may have drug collection one day out of the year. Or,
they may have a year round program, but only collect non-controlled
substances, such as over-the-counter drugs and antibiotics. 
It is against the law for controlled substances - including prescription
drugs like Ritalin and Percoset - to be handled by anyone other than the
individual to whom they were prescribed, a pharmacist or a law enforcement
Placing the drug receptacles in police station solves that problem. The
county contracts with a service that removes the drugs for incineration. 
Any legal drug in pill, liquid or cream form will be accepted. Medicines
should be in their original containers with any identity information removed.
Liquids should be placed in sealed bags to contain potential leakage. 
Seniors, the disabled and others who can't drive to their closest police
department to drop off items should call police for assistance. 
Tissier's office has received at least 15 inquiries about the program from
jurisdictions across the Bay and nation - including from Salt Lake City, the
Miami-Dade County Police Department and the Macomb County Health Department
in Michigan. Vacaville launched a program modeled after San Mateo County's in
Not all police departments in San Mateo County are on board yet, though the
county hopes most will be eventually. 
Some have insurmountable logistical problems, such as Half Moon Bay, which
does not have staffing 24 hours a day and cannot house a receptacle. Instead,
the department has offered to conduct pick-ups at residences. 
San Mateo police Chief Susan Manheimer said she was eager to join the effort.

"We're pleased, as law enforcement agents, to be in a preventive, proactive
mode here," Manheimer said.

Laurie J. Tenace
Environmental Specialist
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
2600 Blair Stone Road, MS 4555
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2400
PH: (850) 245-8759
FAX: (850) 245-8811
Laurie.Tenace at dep.state.fl.us 

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