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April 28, 2017

Why Take Drugs Back on April 29? New York Sea Grant Guide Has Answers

OSWEGO COUNTY - Twice a year New York residents can take their unused pharmaceuticals back to collection sites statewide. Why they should do so is highlighted in the "Undo the Environmental Chemical Brew: Keep Unwanted Medications and Chemicals Out of the Great Lakes" guide developed by New York Sea Grant. The guide is posted online at www.nyseagrant.org/unwantedmeds as "Dose of Reality Fact Sheet."

The guide was written by New York Sea Grant Coastal Education Specialist Helen Domske, associate director of the Great Lakes Program at the University of Buffalo, Buffalo, N.Y., and includes tips on how citizens can keep unwanted pharmaceuticals and personal care products, also called PPCPs, out of local waters and out of the Great Lakes system.

"Taking unused prescription drugs to collection sites helps reduce the impact of unwanted substances on the water resource that provides drinking water to 42 million people in the United States and Canada and aquatic habitat for a host of fishes and other wildlife," Domske said.

The 'Undo the Chemical Brew' guide lists 17 different types of PPCPs, including antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives, antidepressants, cosmetics, and vitamins, that are finding their way into the Great Lakes.

Research by New York Sea Grant and other science organizations has tracked the feminization of fish populations downstream from wastewater treatment plants to estrogen and its components found in prescription drugs.

"Researchers are increasingly documenting the impact of bioactive chemical substances in PPCPs throughout the aquatic food web on fishes, frogs, mussels and other freshwater organisms. We do not want people flushing unwanted and unused medicines down the toilet or drain," Domske said.

A New York Sea Grant-funded, two-year research project that began in February 2016 is examining the effectiveness of advanced water treatment options, environmental levels and potential effects of pharmaceuticals in New York waters.

The biannual National Prescription Drug Take Back Days are an initiative of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in cooperation with law enforcement agencies nationwide. Collection hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 29. Authorized collection sites are posted on the DEA's Web site at https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/.

New York Sea Grant, a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. New York Sea Grant has Great Lakes offices in Buffalo, Newark, and Oswego, N.Y. For updates on New York Sea Grant activities, go to www.nyseagrant.org and click on the RSS, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube links.

'UNDO THE ENVIROMENTAL CHEMICAL BREW' - This guide from New York Sea Grant encourages participation in 'Drug Take Back' days as well as the proper disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals and personal care products which will help protect Great Lakes Waters. Image courtesy of New York Sea Grant.

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