Darien hosting safe drug disposal program
People have heard the rumors about fish growing to gargantuan proportions after they're flushed down the toilet. However, what is not as widely known is what happens to those prescription drugs you might decide to flush.
Health Director David Knauf is one of the driving forces behind the program "Safe Disposal=Sound Returns," which will be held on Saturday, Oct. 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ox Ridge Elementary School.
Knauf said one reason behind holding the program, which is a joint effort between Darien Health Department and Liberation Programs, Inc., is because most wastewater treatment systems are not designed to filter out prescription and over the counter medications.
"There is a tendency to just leave medications in the cabinet," Knauf said, "but then the advice to flush them came out."
Knauf said national studies have shown the potential danger of medication entering the wastewater supply, which, when treated, could potentially end up back in the drinking water supply. However, Knauf acknowledged that Connecticut was a different case because of how wastewater is treated.
"The issue in Connecticut is a little different because we don't use any wastewater in the water supply," Knauf said.
Flushing medications doesn't just impact human health.
A Connecticut Department of Health fact sheet cites a study by the United States Environmental Protection Agency that found low levels of pharmaceuticals in drinking water and that those same drugs can cause ecological damage.
The fact sheet addressed some of the concerns with introducing pharmaceuticals to the environment.
"Health concerns centered on pharmaceuticals in the environment and some drinking water sources are based on the theoretical interactions of various pharmaceuticals with each other and the potential for long-term exposure to low levels," the fact sheet stated. "... However, pharmaceuticals have been tested and approved for use in humans according to strict scientific protocols. It is thus highly unlikely that exposures to very low levels will have adverse health effects on humans. The Department of Public Health has been, and will continue, to track this emerging issue in drinking water quality."
Another concern Knauf addressed was kids who raid their parents medicine cabinets. Saturday's program will provide a safe -- and free -- way to dispose of any old and unwanted medications, Knauf said.
Knauf said because other states have instituted programs such as "Safe Disposal=Sound Returns" successfully, the town decided to try one to see if it could become a regular program.
"We're going to see how well it works and then there will need to be serious thought about a regular program," Knauf said.
There will be Drug Enforcement Administration officers at Saturday's event to handle the disposal of controlled drugs, Knauf said. Those drugs will be incinerated as will all other medications, Knauf said.
"There was no cost to the town to do this program because we received donations," Knauf said. "It's a community effort."