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Source: CBS New York

Campaign Under Way Against Unused Drugs In L.I. Water Supply

Posted: March 7, 2013
Originally Published: March 5, 2013

HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) - According to a new report, more than half of Suffolk County’s medical and health facilities flush their unused medications, which then wind up in the water supply.

A Citizens Campaign for the Environment survey showed 51 percent of the 59 facilities it more than half of Suffolk County’s medical facilities are flushing their unused and expired medications down the toilet.

“This report highlights the dangers of improper medicine disposal and its profound effect on all of us through their impact on the environment,” said Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn.

“When there are leftover medications, expired medications, and there are a lot of them, we have to make sure that they do not get flushed, they get properly disposed of,” Hahn told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.

Hahn noted that Long Island’s water supply comes from aquifers, not reservoirs.

“It is different than the rest of New York State, that receives their water from reservoirs and so we, literally, are standing, driving, building on top of our drinking water,” she said.

“We must do everything in our power to protect this vital resource including ensuring that expired and unused prescription drugs do not find their way into our water supply,” said Suffolk County Legislator William Spencer.

“Our morning coffee should have coffee, milk, and sugar, not valium, morphine and ambien,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of CCE.

The survey also said that a quarter of the facilities use a reverse distributor service to collect the unused drugs.

It said 12 percent participate in a take-back program sponsored by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.

The Farmingdale environment group is pushing for new state legislation and guidelines that would ban flushing of medications.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends incinerating old drugs, or tossing them in the garbage.

Apparently, some doctors feel that flushing guarantees the medication wont find its way into the wrong hands, such as drug dealers or addicts.

The CBS Website also includes an audio interview and the CCE report.