Environmental Protection

N.Y. Pharamacies Join 'Don't Flush' Campaign

Pharmacies and other retail stores around New York recently began participating in the "Don't Flush Your Drugs" campaign to raise awareness about the growing presence of pharmaceuticals in waterbodies, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced.

Recent reports have shown that an array of medicines are showing up in the rivers, streams, and drinking water supplies of a number of American cities. Although the concentrations of the pharmaceuticals are small -- far below typical medical doses -- studies have found negative impacts on aquatic life and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has acknowledged the issue is a serious concern.

Stores that sell pharmaceuticals, vitamins, supplements, and over-the-counter medications are displaying posters to raise public awareness and provide information about how to properly dispose of drugs. The notification initiative is part of the Drug Management and Disposal Act signed into law by Gov. David A. Paterson in 2008.

A copy of the poster is available at http://www.dontflushyourdrugs.net/ and is part of DEC's ongoing effort to promote proper disposal of pharmaceuticals and help protect water quality both now and in the future.

"This is an emerging environmental issue and the consequences are not yet clear," Grannis said. "New Yorkers can help protect our natural resources by not flushing unused drugs."

"The State Education Department licenses professionals in New York to ensure public safety. Pharmacists are licensed to protect the health of patients who take prescription medications," said Education Commissioner Richard P. Mills. "We are supporting the 'Don't Flush Your Drugs' effort in our communications to licensed professionals and the general public to help protect the environment."

Instead of flushing medicines, New Yorkers should place their unused, unwanted or expired drugs in the trash, taking care to destroy or disguise them to avoid misuse or misdirection. Adding water, salt, ashes, or coffee grounds to unused medications before placing them in the trash can further guard against misuse. Individuals may also be able to take advantage of community drug take-back programs or other programs, such as household hazardous waste collection events, that collect drugs at a central location for proper disposal. Detailed instructions and suggestions are available on the new DEC website http://www.dontflushyourdrugs.net.

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