Hand over old meds

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Ashley Priem of EcoSuperior Environmental Programs displays pill containers at the EcoSuperior office. The annual reminder to clean out medicine cabinets and dispose of old medicines and vitamins properly has been issued.
(Brent Linton)
Ashley Priem of EcoSuperior Environmental Programs displays pill containers at the EcoSuperior office. The annual reminder to clean out medicine cabinets and dispose of old medicines and vitamins properly has been issued. (Brent Linton)

Clean out that medicine cabinet.
That’s the message in EcoSuperior’s Medicine Cabinet Clean Up campaign for the month of February.
Ashley Priem of EcoSuperior Environmental Programs said Tuesday that the annual February campaign is intended as a reminder to people that “it is important that they regularly go through their medicine cabinet and get rid of any unused or expired pharmaceutical products, and take them back to their dispensing pharmacy.”
Leaving old meds in the cabinet poses “an environmental and public health issue,’’ said Priem.
“What happens is obvious if other people get a hold of these medicines (and) they can be dangerous to children,” she said.
She acknowledged that in the past people were told to flush or throw away leftover medicinal products.
“That is no longer the case, because we are finding some of these chemicals are showing up in the waterways.
“There have been numerous studies, quite a few of them from downstream of water treatment plants. What they are finding is levels of hormones, antidepressants, painkillers and also heart medicines are starting to show up,’’ said Priem.
The studies, she said, have focused on fish and amphibians, and results show “feminisation of fish; there is an unequal ratio of males to females in some of the fish; and sometimes they are not able to tell what gender the fish is.
“Right now we are not sure of the long-term public health risks, but there are definitely issues showing up.”
She said water treatment plants are equipped to handle organic matter, “not these kinds of chemicals.’’
Pharmacies will accept prescription and over-the-counter medicines, as well as vitamins and minerals, and nicotine patches for proper disposal.