GVPD collects unused medications

Ellie Phillips

With flu season wrapping up and dormitories starting to clear, the time might be right to go through medicine cabinets and get rid of all unused and expired prescriptions. To prevent inappropriate disposal of prescribed medications, the Grand Valley Police Department offers a prescription drop-off box.

Capt. Brandon DeHaan of GVPD said the program has so far been a success, with the box needing to be emptied a few times already since it was brought to campus last year.

“We’re encouraging our students, faculty and staff to use the box anytime, but especially when they leave at the end of this month,” DeHaan said.

The drop-off site on the Allendale Campus accepts all medications, including controlled medicines and ointments. It is located in the lobby of the facilities building in front of the police station.

Medicines being dropped off should be removed from their prescription container, placed in a Ziploc bag and then discarded in the bin.

Proper disposal of prescription medications and other drugs is important because a 2002 analysis by the U.S. Geological Survey showed that out of 139 streams and rivers in 30 states, about 80 percent of the waterways tested had measurable amounts of both prescription and non-prescription drugs, steroids and reproductive hormones in the water.

This finding led experts with the Centers for Disease Control to say that between 20 and 60 percent of all prescription medications end up being unused and thrown away, or flushed down the toilet.

Another study conducted by the National Institutes of Health has indicated that when medications are flushed, the water can break them down, and water filtration and treatment plants are unable to filter the chemicals from the water as the facilities aren’t designed to screen for those specific compounds. These medications can seep into the ground water after being deposited in landfills, as well.

“We take these items to be incinerated,” DeHaan said. “This has been identified as the proper way to dispose of them. I think we’re very fortunate to have this program available to our faculty, students and staff. It’s the right thing to do, and we encourage faculty, students and staff to do the right thing.”

For more information, visit the GVPD webpage related to the drop-off box at www.gvsu.edu/gvpd/prescription-drop-off-box-119.htm or call GVPD offices at 616-331-3255.
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