October 3, 2008

Tri-City Residents Urged to Dispose of Medications Properly

By Linh Tat

Health care facilities flush millions of pounds of unused medications down the drain each year, with the chemicals entering drinking water supplies and waterways where fish and other wildlife live, according to an ongoing Associated Press investigation.

When this occurs, antibiotic-resistant germs and genetic mutations may occur, and wildlife exposed to chemicals in waterways could end up with developmental and reproductive abnormalities, studies have found.

To address this problem, the Union Sanitary District, Washington Hospital and Haller's Pharmacy, a local drugstore company, are participating in "No Drugs Down the Drain," a state campaign that urges people and organizations to dispose of unwanted medications properly.

Starting today, Tri-City residents may drop off expired and unwanted pills, creams and liquid medications, such as cough syrup, at participating locations for free. Hypodermic needles will not be accepted.

Individuals dropping off medications should remove pills from their bottles, and the containers may be placed in home recycling bins.

The discarded medications will be taken away by a licensed medical waste hauler for incineration.

"Flushing medicines down drains is no longer acceptable," said Michael Auer, environmental outreach coordinator for the sanitary district. "Wastewater treatment plants ... are designed to handle normal household wastes. They are not equipped to treat pharmaceuticals, so medications flushed into the sewer system can pass through and into San Francisco Bay."

Reach Linh Tat at 510-353-7010 or [email protected] Read her blog postings at www.ibabuzz.com/tricitybeat.Medication

drop-off locations

Here's where residents may drop off unwanted medications:-- Washington Hospital's main lobby, 2000 Mowry Ave., Fremont.-- Washington Hospital's Community Health Resource Library, 2500 Mowry Ave., Fremont.-- Washington Township Medical Group, 46690 Mohave Drive, Fremont or 35500 Dumbarton Court, Newark.-- Washington Township's Nakamura Clinic, 33077 Alvarado-Niles Road, Union City.-- Haller's Pharmacy, 37323 Fremont Blvd., Fremont or 6170 Thornton Ave., Newark.

For more information, visit www.nodrugsdownthedrain.org.

Originally published by Linh Tat, The Argus.

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