New medication disposal program available

East End residents no longer have to wait for drug disposal events to turn in their unwanted medications.

The Group for the East End, with the help of Suffolk County’s Soil and Water Conservation District, has established the East End Medication Disposal Program, giving residents year-round access to drop boxes at local police departments to dispose of unused medications.

For decades, people had been told to flush unwanted medications down the toilet, but after all of those flushes, pharmaceuticals are starting to add up, said Bob DeLuca, president for the non-profit group.

Trace amounts of six different pharmaceuticals have been found in Long Island’s waters, some of which were in two East End well sites, according to county officials.

In an effort to curb what Mr. DeLuca called an “emerging issue,” the group reached out to the county to pursue funding for the program.

The group was given a $50,000 grant from the Suffolk County Drinking Water Protection Program, a voter-approved law, which directs a quarter penny sales tax on every dollar to preserving the county’s environmental resources.

“It’s exactly why that program was created,” said Scott Russell, Southold Town supervisor. “Dollar for dollar, it’s a perfect fit.”

Mr. Russell said “the process is far more convenient and readily available,” as compared to waiting for disposal events.

Southampton, Riverhead, Southold and Shelter Island Town police departments (as well as some South Fork departments), will house the drop boxes, which are navy blue and stand about 4-feet tall.

They will be installed and available at each of the departments starting Oct. 21.

Residents can drop off expired or unwanted over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs and antibiotics in pill, powder and liquid forms – including pet medications and controlled substances, Mr. DeLuca said.

Syringes, medical waste or mercury thermometers are not accepted.

“There has long been a need for a simple, safe and confidential way to properly dispose of medications on the East End, but now everyone can be assured that their unwanted medications don’t find their way into our bays, harbors and drinking water,” Mr. DeLuca said.

When you learn about water quality “so many of the solutions are really complicated, and this is a really simple one,” said Legislator Al Krupski.

He said the program will help in getting “medications out of society so they don’t fall into the wrong hands and become a problem down the road, and that’s a really important component,” he said.

Medication drop box accessibility hours can be found on the group’s website.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO |  Bob DeLuca standing next to an example of the drop boxes residents can dispose of unwanted medication in.
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Bob DeLuca standing next to an example of the drop boxes residents can dispose unwanted medication in.