Medicines that are flushed or poured down the drain can end up polluting our waterways, impacting aquatic species, and contaminating our food and water supplies.
Most medicines are not filtered out by wastewater treatment plants or septic systems.
Scientists have found medicines in surface, ground and marine waters, as well as soils and sediments. Even at very low levels, medicines in the environment hurt aquatic life, and who knows how they affect our drinking water.
Using a medicine take-back program is a simple, sensible way to reduce the amount of medicine entering the environment.
There are other ways to get rid of them, but the safest way is to drop them off at area police departments. Efforts are being taken locally to collect prescription medications to ensure that the chemicals in these drugs don’t end up in the local water supply.
Kay Nedderman, president of Clean-up Our River Environment, said her group has taken up a drive to place boxes around the community to collect old drugs. Her group has placed mailboxes at local police stations, where people can drop off their unused medications.
The box at the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety office is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Another box at the Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Department is available during normal business hours. The Ottawa County Sheriff's Department also has drop boxes at eight locations throughout the county, including in the lobby of Grand Haven Township Hall and Coopersville City Hall. For a list of various medication disposal sites, click HERE.
Area residents can anonymously drop off their old medications at these locations. The drugs are then taken to an incinerator in Grand Rapids for disposal.
This program is especially important in the Tri-Cities area since our water intake system is located in Lake Michigan at the state park, right off the piers. If residents dump their unused drugs down the toilet, those medications could easily make their way down the river and into the lake.
Flushing a few pills down the toilet probably doesn’t seem like a problem to some people — but when these medications accumulate in area waterways, it becomes a big deal. And why risk it?
It’s far better to be safe than sorry, and the solution is just a short trip to an area police station.
We commend Nedderman and her Clean-up Our River Environment group for not just complaining about the problem, but for taking the “bull by the horns” and doing something about it.
Now it’s our responsibility to comply!
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.