Drug take-back programs keep old medicines out of homes, drinking water

York

Police departments across York County have collected tons of prescription pills through their drug take-back programs, and that’s keeping people safe in more ways than one.

Police stations across the county collected four tons of drugs last year.

“It gets the medicine of a loved one out of the home, out of the reach of other people, so prescription medication can’t end up in the wrong hands,” Northern York County Regional police Lt. Gregg Anderson said.

Those drugs are destroyed at the refuse authority – burned into ash – so they don’t end up in the sewer or in a landfill. 

When unused pills are flushed down a toilet, research has proven that traces stay in the groundwater and end up in the drinking supply. 

“I think a lot of people are under the misconception that if it’s going to a wastewater treatment plant, it’s going to be treated, and it’s not. They don’t have a means at the plant to remove medications,” said Ellen O’Conner, a spokeswoman for the York County Solid Waste Authority.

Since the drug take-back programs launched in 2012, officials say the amount of drugs turned over has been on the rise. 

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