Missouri Rural Water Association (MRWA), in cooperation with 10 water utilities sponsoring collection sites, reports collecting 1,344 lbs. of unwanted pharmaceuticals during the September 27 Drug Take-Back Event.
There was a total of 19 lbs. collected at the County Market Pharmacy in Vandalia, with the assistance of the Vandalia Police Department.
Overall, at least 178 sites in Missouri collected pharmaceuticals in what has become a popular, semi-annual event, with drug discard opportunities each spring and fall.
The event raises awareness of proper disposal methods, in contrast to outdated methods of flushing these drugs down the toilet or tossing them into trash cans. Either of these older practices exposes the environment to particular risks. Trace elements of these active ingredients get into waterways or underground aquifers.
“It’s important that we maintain water quality for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren” emphasizes MRWA Source Water Protection Specialist Eric Fuchs who helped coordinate the September event.
Since these elements cannot be removed through wastewater treatment, they pose a threat to waterways. Scientific evidence reveals deformities in aquatic life, which raises questions about the extent to which these pharmaceuticals threaten human health.
The MRWA continues to work with water utilities to lessen this threat through collection of expired or unwanted drugs. Statistics indicate a growing use of pharmaceuticals as our population ages. The need, therefore, becomes greater than ever that we properly dispose of these substances.
The federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) works with local law enforcement officials to ensure safe delivery of collected pharmaceuticals. The DEA then incinerates what it collects to ensure that residues do not make their way into water sources, landfills, or unauthorized hands.
As a turn of events, Fuchs reports that the DEA will no longer be providing transport or disposal of medications in the future. Although this will hinder efforts to some degree, Fuchs says that the MRWA remains committed to the cause; and he adds that cooperating water utilities are very interested in keeping this event going.