RIT Hosts Pharmaceutical Waste Collection in Cooperation with Monroe County
Nov. 2 event is open to the public as well as campus community
Oct. 25, 2012
by Kathy Lindsley
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Americans fill an average of a dozen drug prescriptions per person each year, according to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation.
At the same time, prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Partnership for a Drug Free America reports that 20 percent of high school students are known to have abused prescription drugs such as pain killers.
Prescription drugs are also polluting waterways. Nearly 80 percent of rivers recently tested by the U.S. Geological Survey contained traces of pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics, steroids, hormones and contraceptives.
These troubling issues are the motivation behind RIT hosting its first Pharmaceutical Waste Disposal event, which takes place 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Nov. 2 in parking lot H. Campus and community members can drop off any unused or expired prescription and over-the-counter drugs, veterinary medications, nutritional supplements and sharps.
“Monroe County has been a leader in New York state in addressing this issue,” says Enid Cardinal, senior sustainability adviser to RIT President Bill Destler. “So RIT is partnering with the Monroe County Department of Environmental Services and the Sheriff’s Department to bring a collection event to campus.”
“Monroe County is proud to partner with RIT for what is sure to be a successful collection of unused, unwanted or expired pharmaceutical wastes in our community,” says County Executive Maggie Brooks. “Collection events such as this encourage proper environmental stewardship and we thank RIT for their continued commitment to promoting sustainability throughout Monroe County.”
County and sheriff’s department staff will orchestrate the collection and members of RIT’s Student Environmental Action League will assist. SEAL has conducted collections of used electronics since 2001.
“The meds collection is hugely important for the protection of our water resource,” says Josh Goldowitz, professor, environmental sustainability, health and safety, and SEAL adviser. “The public has been told to flush unused medications, but that is a really bad idea. The medications aren’t removed by the wastewater treatment systems and end up getting into our lakes and streams. These medications not only effect organisms in the environment, but they get back into our water supply.”
Goldowitz proposed the idea for a pharmaceutical collection to Cardinal. Cardinal says the hope is that RIT’s collection will serve as the kickoff to a Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal effort, a national initiative started in 2007 by a high school class in Pontiac, Ill.
Rochester STEM High School is also participating. About 25 students will spend the day at RIT helping with the collection and learning about opportunities for study at RIT.
“Since we have a large population of faculty and staff commuting in to RIT, we can make it convenient for people to put a bag of unused or out-of-date pharmaceuticals in their cars and drop them off,” Goldowitz says. “We hope this will be a pretty big event, and one that we’ll turn into an annual event.”
For more information about the county’s pharmaceuticals disposal program and what items can be brought to the collection, go to www.monroecounty.gov/des-PharmaceuticalWasteDisposal.php.