Written by Pat Grace Wednesday, 17 June 2009 15:34
Partnering with Nassau County, North Hempstead unveiled a drop-off program for residents’ expired and unwanted medications.
The first such initiative in Nassau County, the program—meant to address the abuse of unwanted drugs while stopping them from entering the drinking water—was made public June 3 at a press briefing inside Manhasset Park Drugs, 290 Plandome Road just a few doors from Town Hall.
“Everyone both in government and the public sector is recognizing that there needs to be a consistent response to the rising concern about the potential impact of not properly disposing of unwanted drugs,” said Supervisor Jon Kaiman.
Studies have found traces of prescription and over-the-counter medicines in water supplies around the country. And according to federal data, prescription drug abuse is second only to marijuana use by 12- to 17-year-olds. It is a safety issue to remove pharmaceuticals from the home when no longer being used. As for the expiration date, Dr. Maria Carney said that is for patient efficacy, and is not at present an environmental issue, although she added, research is just not there.
“The improper disposal of pharmaceuticals and their accessibility to young children and teens has emerged as an environmental and health issue,” said Dr. Maria Carney, Nassau County’s Commissioner of Health. “I commend the town for initiating this program.” New federal prescription drug disposal guidelines urge consumers to mix unwanted drugs with a substance such as used coffee grounds or kitty litter and dispose of them in empty cans or sealable bags if they don’t have access to a drop-off program like North Hempstead’s.
The town’s first drug drop-off event took place Saturday June 6 at 802 West Shore Road in Port Washington. Future events will coincide with the town’s Stop Throwing Out Pollutants program, which happens four times a year.
Two Nassau County agencies, the Medical Reserve Corps—a group of volunteer licensed health care professionals—and the County Police Department will jointly partner with North Hempstead to oversee the drop-off events, tabulating the categories of drugs collected and making sure they are transported to an incinerator for disposal.
“This initiative is a win-win for everyone in the community and we urge all residents to participate in this program,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence W. Mulvey said.
Jack Russo, the Commissioner of the Roslyn Water District, emphasized that the water quality is good right now but the town’s pharmaceutical drop-off program is a critical step in helping to keep it that way. “I urge residents to participate and other towns to follow suite,” he said. Additionally Russo said, “This is a verypositive step to enhance and remove a potential hazard in our groundwater.”
Town Councilwoman Maria Christina Poons said, “The town is proud to be on the front lines of this campaign to protect our environment.”