Glenwood students, police create prescription drug drop-off program
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – What do you do with your unused or expired prescriptions medications? Throw them in the trash? Flush them down the toilet, perhaps?
Or, maybe they just pile up in the bathroom cabinet.
To provide a better option, a group of Glenwood Springs High School students and the police department have teamed up to make Glenwood the first town in Colorado to be part of the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal (P2D2) Program, which provides residents with a drop box to properly dispose of unused or expired prescriptions in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.
Disposing of medications by flushing or throwing them in the trash ultimately leads to the contamination of local streams and rivers, according to Keri Wagstrom with the Colorado River Water Conservation District.
“There is definitely an environmental impact on the water,” Wagstrom said. “It’s all the same water. The water we ski on, that we drink, that we flush down the toilet. It’s all the same water.”
Glenwood High School students and Impact Club members Taryn Pearce, Maggie Carmer, Mariah Martin and Kenzi Caple, along with Glenwood Springs police Sgt. Aaron Munch, unveiled the drop box Thursday afternoon. The box is located at the west entrance to Glenwood Springs City Hall, in front of the police department.
“This gives people a safe alternative to flushing them, or putting them down the sink,” Munch said.
The program is a cooperative effort initiated by Paul Ritter, a former school teacher of Munch in Pontiac, Ill. According to Munch, the program’s intent is to prevent these substances from finding their way into the community waterways, and to prevent them from finding their way to the streets. That’s why the Glenwood students wanted to get involved in the program.
“We just want to ensure water quality for future generations and also help get drugs off the street,” said Pearce, who is a Glenwood Springs High School senior and member of the Impact Club.
According to the program’s website, P2D2program.org, the number of unused and unwanted prescriptions has risen significantly in the past decade. The program estimates that drug consumption in the U.S. increased 109 percent between 2000 and 2004, and created a larger number of unused prescription drugs in homes.
According to Munch, the program has collected more than 100,000 pounds of medications in the last three years nationwide. But, the program was slow in reaching Colorado.
“I was surprised that nothing like this has reached Colorado,” Munch said.
All prescription pharmaceuticals are permitted to be disposed of at the box, according to Munch. All non-controlled, non-hazardous medications, including vitamins and supplements, homeopathic remedies, creams, oils, ointments and suppositories can be dropped off anonymously. Munch said that illegal drugs will also be accepted, in order to get them off the streets, as well.
Program administrators recommend marking out any personal information on the prescription bottles with a permanent marker to protect the identity of the individual.
Collected medications are incinerated, Munch said, as it is currently the most environmentally safe method.
The Glenwood Sunrise Rotary Club, the Colorado River Water Conservation District, and Valley View Hospital are sponsors of the program. And it’s an easy and sensible program to get behind, according to Wagstrom.
“It’s something we support because it further supports our mission of protecting western Colorado water quality,” Wagstrom said.
Glenwood Springs City Councilman Dave Sturges was present for the unveiling Thursday, and told the students that it’s important for younger generations to be involved in programs like this.
“This is a good way to celebrate Earth Day,” Sturges said. “I think this is a great program that is not only good for the health of the community, but is good for the health of the environment, too.”
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