National Drug Take-Back Day

By Lina Younes

I remember when I was a teenager and I would regularly go through the medicine cabinet checking the expiration dates of medications. Since my father was a physician, he would often get samples from pharmaceutical companies promoting their wares. With time, these samples piled up and ended up in the trash unused. I thought nothing of it back then.

Several decades later we have seen several reports on the presence of pharmaceuticals in water and the potential risks to human health and aquatic life. EPA and its federal partners are taking steps to address the issue regarding public education and proper disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products in water. However, have you stopped to think what you can do at home?

Well, for starters, there is going to be a National Drug Take-Back Day at a location near you on September 25th. The main objective is to allow individuals to drop off their excess prescription and over-the-counter medications at select collection centers for proper disposal. The benefits will be threefold. First, by removing these unused medications in your home, you’ll prevent unintentional poisonings of children, the elderly and pets. Secondly, by participating in this “take-back” event, you’ll avoid having these drugs from contaminating our environment. Thirdly, you’ll also prevent prescription drugs from falling into the wrong hands. In essence, it’s a win-win throughout: protecting public health and safety, taking care of the environment and cleaning out your medicine cabinet all for a good cause. After the event, the medications will be disposed of properly with minimum impact on the environment. Please visit this website and plug in your zip code to find a collection site near you. It’s that simple.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and chairs EPA’s Multilingual Communications Task Force. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

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