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Take advantage of medicine take-back

If your medicine cabinet is getting crowded with old, unusable or outdated prescriptions or over-the-counter medications, you’re in luck.

On Saturday, the Winchester Police Department will participate in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s annual National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., an officer will be on hand at the police department, 16 N. Maple St., to accept expired or unwanted medication. Only pills or capsules will be accepted; liquids or sharp items are not welcome.

WPD asks that participants bring their unwanted medications loose in clear plastic bags and leave the pill bottles, especially with identifying information, at home.

At the end of the four hours, the surrendered medication will be consolidated with other agencies’ collections and disposed of.

The Environment Protection Agency encourages the public to take advantage of pharmaceutical take-back collection programs, like the one in Winchester, that accept prescription or OTC drugs.

These programs offer a safe and environmentally-conscious way to dispose of unwanted medicines.

The EPA recommends that household pharmaceuticals collected during a take-back event or program to be incinerated.

Most importantly, the EPA warns against flushing expired or undated prescription and over-the-counter drugs down the toilet or drain unless the label or accompanying patient information specifically instructs you to do so.

While take-back programs are the safest and preferred method, the EPA and the Office of National Drug Control Policy offer these recommendations for home disposal:

— Take prescription drugs out of their original container.

— Mix the drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or coffee grounds.

— Put the mixture into a disposable container with a lid, such as an empty butter tub, or sealable bag.

— Conceal or remove any personal information, including the RX number, on the empty containers by covering it with a permanent marker or duct take or by scratching it off.

— The sealable container with the drug mixture and the empty drug containers can now be placed in the trash.

There are many reasons we should be conscious and careful when disposing of medications. Proper disposal of medicine is important to protect the community and the environment.

Proper disposal prevents accidental poisoning of children and pets and deters misuse by teenagers and other adults.

Proper disposal of medicine also helps avoid health problems from accidentally taking the wrong medicine, too much of the same medicine or a medicine that is too old to work well.

By disposing of medicine at home in the proper way or taking advantage of medicine take-back programs, you can also keep drugs from entering streams or rivers when they are poured down the drain or flushed down the toilet.

The EPA warns that medicines can end up in our drinking water.

“In homes that use septic tanks, prescription and over-the-counter drugs flushed down the toilet can leach into the ground and seep into groundwater,” according to the EPA’s “How to Dispose of Medicine Properly” handout. “In cities and towns where residences are connected to wastewater treatment plants, drugs poured down the sink or flushed down the toilet can pass through the treatment system and enter rivers and lakes. They may flow downstream to serve as sources for community drinking water supplies. Water treatment plants are generally not equipped to remove medicines.”

For more information about the importance of proper medicine disposal, visit epa.gov/ppcp.

We encourage you to take advantage of this day set aside for taking unwanted medications. Throughout the year, WPD and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office also collect unwanted medicines in a drop box in the lobby of each office.

Take some time to clean out your medicine cabinet and protect the community and the environment while you’re at it.