SMARxT Disposal Options for Pharmaceuticals
April 26, 2014
8 am - 2 pm
Longmont United Hospital (main lobby)
1950 Mountain View Ave.
Our last drop off was October 26, 2013 (collected 1, 053.9 lbs of meds).
Miss the Event?
We will likely have another event in 6 months.
Collection receptacle at the King Soopers (1650 30th St., Boulder) has been closed.
Other statewide locations in this collection program are offered by the State of Colorado.
SAVE OUR FISH
Do not flush medication down the drain
- Buy only what you can use before the expiration date,
- Bring medications to Drop Off Days,
- Ask your pharmacist about their Take Back Programs and the type of disposal they use. (Don't use a Take Back Program that discharges the wastes to the sanitary sewer.);
- Throw medication into the trash after making it unusable. (mix liquids with absorbents such as kitty litter or coffee grounds; and mix pills with glue and dry before discarding. Patches can be cut into small strips and mixed with glue. Also, remember to remove identification from bottles or use a non-descript container.)
- Controlled substances: please refer to the printed materials accompanying the medication for specific instructions on proper disposal.
501 East 1st Avenue
Longmont, CO 80501
Phone: (303) 651-8667
Utility Call Center
Phone: (303) 651-8416
Protecting Surface & Ground Water from Contamination
Thank you Longmont United Hospital
and Longmont Police Department
Frequently Asked Questions About the Annual Drop Off Event
When is the next event?
Next event may be in spring of 2014 if DEA funding is available. Some local pharmacies are now accepting unused medications for proper disposal. Ask your pharmacist how they dispose of the wastes.
What is accepted at the event?
All pharmaceuticals (prescription and over-the-counter) from residents will be accepted. This includes pills, capsules, liquids, inhalers, patches, etc.
Businesses cannot dispose of their wastes at this event.
Can I drop off other medical equipment/wastes?
No, this event is for pharmaceuticals only.
Needles cannot by recycled and are not accepted the the Haz Waste Event. Residents may throw these in the trash if they are placed in a sharps container or heavy duty plastic container that can be sealed. Check with your own trash service if it is not the City of Longmont.
Mercury thermometers and other household hazardous wastes may be disposed through the City of Longmont's Public Works facility's Household Hazardous Waste Drop Off Event at 375 Airport Road. This is usually scheduled in September.
Who may participate?
Why should I participate in this event?
3-7% of all medication goes unused, according to estimates by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Pharmacy groups previously recommended flushing medications down the drain.
However, recent research shows that wastewater treatment plants may not “treat” these chemicals and they will pass through and into the river. Some chemicals can cause harm to fish species. In fact, a recent study conducted on Boulder Creek shows that levels of “endocrine disruptors” below the discharge of a treatment plant were high enough to cause fish mutations.
What can I expect at the event?
The event is held on a Saturday, so there should be ample parking available.
Enter the hospital main lobby and follow the signs to the event table to drop off your wastes.
A pharmacist will be onsite to answer any questions and review the wastes prior to disposal.
What if I can't make this year's scheduled event?
For safety reasons, please only drop off your medication during the hours of 8 am to 2 pm and only at the event table.
What happens to the wastes I drop off at the event?
At the event table, volunteers will empty pill bottles into a container. This will reduce the weight and hence, disposal costs.
Since 2010, the wastes have been collected by the DEA for incineration and part of a national collection event. The Longmont Police Department coordinates this effort.
Containers (plastic or cardboard) will be recycled through Ecocycle.
Do I have to do anything to the wastes prior to drop off?
It would be prudent to remove or scratch out personal information from any bottle. Please retain the label that identifies the medication so that we can segregate any controlled substances.
Can I drop off drugs prescribed for my pet?
Can I drop off other wastes like personal care products, pesticides, etc.?
No. Other household hazardous wastes may be disposed through the City of Longmont's Public Works facility's Household Hazardous Waste Drop Off Event.
What if I have more questions?
Please call the City's Pollution Prevention Program at (303) 651-8667 or the Utility Call Center at (303) 651-8416.
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What Are Endocrine Disruptors?
The EPA has identified numerous pollutants that can be considered endocrine disruptors. These not only include the obvious pharmaceutical products, but also over the counter medications, fire retardants, and fragrances commonly found in cosmetics, deodorants and lotions... to name a few categories.
Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCP):Click here to go to the EPA website for more information.
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Protecting Surface Waters and Groundwater From Contamination
Wastewater treatment plants were not designed to treat pharmaceutical wastes or its byproducts. In the past, proper disposal included flushing medication down the drain or toilet. However, recent studies have shown that many chemicals are not treated by the wastewater treatment plants. These can pass through the plant and contaminate the receiving water (the river). Fish mutations have even been recorded in Boulder Creek below a wastewater treatment plant.
At this time, we really don't know the extent of the long or short term problems from this contamination to the environment, animal or human health. Hopefully, technology will be developed soon to treat the wastes at the wastewater treatment plant.
FREQUENTY ASKED QUESTIONS
Are fish mutations happening in the St. Vrain River below Longmont's wastewater treatment plant like in Boulder? ----Most likely. However, this is a worldwide problem and not a Boulder County problem. We are unable to conduct any fish studies on the St. Vrain River. It is home to some fish species that are not found anywhere else in Colorado. For that reason, the Department of Wildlife (DOW) prohibits fish studies on the St. Vrain River.
What is the City doing about this problem? ----Monitoring, public education and the SMARxT Disposal Campaign.
St. Vrain River Monitoring - The City of Longmont Public Works & Natural Resources has been conducting river monitoring for over 20 years. During 2005-2006, we partnered with the USGS to conduct sampling of the St. Vrain River for endocrine disruptors. As expected, some pollutants were found and some show an increased concentration as the water moves through the city. We also conduct annual stream health assessments where benthic organisms are collected and evaluated.
Is my drinking water contaminated?
If you want general information about PPCPs and drinking water, click here to visit the American Water Works Association (AWWA) website.
Does the City monitor the drinking water for pharmaceuticals? ----No, the City's water supply and treated water are monitored for the parameters required to ensure safe and high quality drinking water. The EPA is working on identifying the specific pollutants of concern or any pharmaceutical from the list of potential endocrine disruptors. Additionally, the EPA has to adopt the 'approved methods' for the analysis of these chemicals once they are identified.
The City of Longmont's Drinking Water Annual Report lists the testing done and is available on-line.
Today, we suggest disposal to a landfill. However, this may have future consequences if the medication contaminates the landfill leachate, escapes and enters the groundwater. This option is better than disposal down the drain, but probably just creating environmental problems for the next generation. Studies have shown that some chemicals persist for several decades in groundwater. These are probably low level concentrations, but we don't know the extent of problems that could be caused from long term low level exposure to the chemicals or their byproducts.
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||Pounds per Household
1.09 (April event)
1.12 (Oct event)
1.25 (April event)
1.05 (Oct event)
- Total of 7,856 pounds of wastes diverted from potentially entering our environment.
- Average of 1.27 lbs per household. This is medication only - no bottles included in the final weight.
These demographics were accumulated during the 2007 event.
Included are 132 households representing 307 individuals (self, family, friends and pets):
- 53% of households dropped off both prescription and over-the-counter medications.
- 39% of drugs had expired. 35% of drugs were no longer taken.
- 40% of drugs had been saved for 2 years or more. 23% had been saved 1 to 2 years.
- 56% of people previously disposed of wastes to trash. 42% of people previously flushed them down the toilet.
- 52% of participants hear about the event from the Daily Times Call items: "City Talk" and "Johnny St. Vrain".
- 37% of people participating were between the ages of 48-60 years old. 31% were over 74 years. 24% were 61-73 years.
- 79% of participants were female.
- 6% of the individuals included in the households were pets.
Most asked questions before, during and after the event:
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This page was updated
February 6, 2014
City of Longmont Public Works & Natural Resources
Pollution Prevention Program