2014-04-24 / Community

Area drug take-back event set

MARQUETTE – The Superior Watershed Partnership is hosting a one-day pharmaceutical collection event on April 26, in communities across the Upper Peninsula. From 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. UP residents will be able to drop off their expired and unwanted medications at sites in 18 UP communities.

The Manistique Public Safety Department will be participating in the day by collecting unused or unwanted pharmaceuticals at the First United Methodist Church. The collection will take place from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in the church, located at 190 N. Cedar St. A uniformed Manistique Public Safety officer will be standing by at the site, along with other officials who will supervise the collection process.

Area Michigan State Police collection sites also taking part in the April 26 collect include the St. Ignace Post, N430 I-75, St. Ignace; and the Gladstone Post, 922 Lake Shore Drive, Gladstone. Pick up times are also 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

The SWP is celebrating their 10th anniversary of hosting record-setting UP-wide Earth Day events by partnering with their Earth Keeper church network to bring this free event to the public. On Earth Day 2007, the SWP, in collaboration with this unique collaboration of 10 faiths and 200 churches, hosted over 20 pharmaceutical collections in every major UP city. At the end of the day over 2000 pounds of old and unwanted drugs were collected. The day-long event received national attention from the US Environmental Protection Agency and marked the beginning of similar efforts by the DEA and local law enforcement posts. This year’s collection will follow a similar process in that the SWP is working with Earth Keeper congregations as well as the Salvation Army and local units of government.

“The old way of dumping pills in the toilet is no longer acceptable.” said Natasha Koss, a Program Manager at the SWP. It has been confirmed when flushed down the toilet and entering waterways, pharmaceuticals cause reproductive and developmental problems in aquatic wildlife. A recent study in Milwaukee off the coast of Lake Michigan, confirmed the presence of antibiotics, and other drugs in waters miles from the effluent of the wastewater treatment plant, suggesting these compounds aren’t breaking down as scientists initially expected. Not only is it a water quality issue, it’s also a law enforcement issue which is why throwing them in the trash is also discouraged. Drugs like narcotics thrown away in the trash can get in the hands of the wrong people.

The SWP Pharmaceutical Collections will accept everything from prescriptions, over the counter medications, narcotics, liquids, and even medical waste like sharps and old mercury thermometers. People are being encouraged to keep pills in original containers. The SWP is also collecting liquid soaps containing micro-plastics, tiny abrasive pieces of plastic that are also not filtered out by water treatment plants. Studies show these micro-plastics (or beads) can be ingested by Great Lakes fish.

Another goal of the project is to make sure there’s an easily accessible drop-off box in every UP County. The April 26 collections will be open to the public and are completely free.

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