As the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration steps up efforts to provide options for safe disposal of unused pharmaceuticals, I am pleased to see a renewed commitment to dealing with the danger of idle unused medications.
There is no question that government drug disposal programs have been an overwhelming success. Since San Mateo County established the nation’s first-ever Pharmaceutical Disposal Program in 2006, more than 50 tons of materials have been diverted from our sewers and waterways.
It was not long ago when residents were encouraged to flush unused medications down the toilet. Recent news reports underscored what many environmental watchdogs have long suspected, that myriad pills flushed down myriad drains were slowly contaminating rivers and streams, and linked to mutations in certain species of fish and amphibians.
In addition to the environmental stewardship created by this program, 50 tons of pills are no longer sitting idle in medicine cabinets and on shelves — creating the opportunity for misuse or abuse by the drug’s owner or others in the household.
I am proud to say that San Mateo County has received numerous awards for its program including the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership award, California’s highest environmental honor. My office still receives calls from municipalities across the country looking to use the San Mateo County drug disposal model to start new programs.
San Mateo County has been working hard to “Make Green Easy” for residents and properly disposing of old medication is just one way to do this. For a listing of the 14 confidential drop-off container locations in San Mateo County, please visit www.smchealth.org/RxDisposal or call my office at (650) 363-4572.
Adrienne Tissier is a member of the
San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.