Great Neck organizations invite public to ‘Shed the Meds’

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shed the meds
The Great Neck Water Pollution Control District and other organizations will be collecting unused medications to dispose. (Photo courtesy of the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District)

The Great Neck Water Pollution Control District will accept expired and unused medication at a drive-through at its 236 East Shore Road headquarters on Sunday, in an effort to reduce pharmaceutical pollution of local water and help residents “shed the meds.”

The “Shed the Meds” event is being hosted in partnership with Reach Out America, the Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition, North Shore Action, the Nassau County police, Northwell Health and the Boy Scouts.

Leaders from the groups framed the event as an ideal way to safely get rid of pharmaceutical waste, protect the environment, improve people’s health and reduce drug abuse.

“We decided to co-sponsor this important event because it gives our community an easy way to safely dispose of unused prescription medications, keeping us all healthier and safer,” said Veronica Lurvey, co-founder of North Shore Action, a community action group based in Great Neck. “Nobody wants prescription drug compounds in our water.

“I think at this point we understand that there are real risks that unused prescription drugs will be misused.”

Patty Katz, a commissioner of the water pollution control district, said that flushing medications is one of the “worst things to do.” She said pharmaceutical pollutants may be having an effect on aquatic organisms, as well as drinking water.

“There’s just so many different types of hormones, painkillers, so it’s just much better to keep it out of our water,” Katz said.

She also noted that the organization has always had a pharmaceutical takeback program, where residents could mail in their unused painkillers for proper disposal. But this is the first time the district has hosted a “Shed the Meds” event, Katz said.

“This is a bigger step because we really felt there was a need for the district to have a place to do this,” Katz said.

Unused medications should be in their original containers, including legally held Schedule II, III, IV and V controlled drugs and narcotics. Liquid medications should be sealed in plastic bags.

Rain or shine, residents can drop off unused medication from their vehicles at 236 East Shore Road on Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Officials recommend they enter the district from the East Shore Road entrance and exit onto Vista Hill Road.

“For decades, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency advocated disposing unused pharmaceuticals by flushing them down the toilet,” Commissioner Jerry Landsberg said. “However, Great Neck residents rely solely on groundwater for our drinking water supply, and Long Island’s water filtration facilities are not equipped to filter out pharmaceutical compounds.”

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