In 2012, on the east end of Long Island, NY, a municipal water supplier closed one of its municipal water wells because the well was contaminated with 5 medications:
Carbamazepine - used to treat bipolar disease
Gemfibrozil - used to treat high cholesterol
Meprobamate - a psychotropic drug used to treat anxiety
Naproxen - an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat pain
Ibuprofen - an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat pain.
The closure of this well was alarming because drinking water for Long Islanders is pumped from wells drilled into sole source aquifers that underlie Long Island.
In 2013, Thomas McAbee, a resident of Long Island, designed the Big Red Med Disposal Box and started a company called Rx Disposal which offers responsible medication disposal services to pharmacies, hospitals, long term care facilities and police departments.
Rx Disposal was formed for the purpose of making medication disposal free, convenient and responsible for people who have unwanted medications. Rather than flush unwanted medications down toilets and into ground water, or toss old medications into the trash, people could responsibly dispose of their unwanted medications by depositing their unwanted medications into DEA compliant Big Red Med Disposal Boxes that are conveniently placed in pharmacies, hospitals, long term care facilities and police departments.
Pharmacist Bob Grisnik: "My customers greatly appreciate the opportunity to responsibly dispose of their unwanted medications at my pharmacy."
Medications are being detected in rivers, lakes, streams, bays, public water wells and groundwater. Though excretion of medication into septic systems and sewers is partly responible for medications in our waters, the disposal of unwanted medications by flushing unwanted medications down toilets or pouring them down sinks contributes to water contamination. The Big Red Med Disposal Box makes the flushing of medications unnecessary.
Many homes are not connected to sewers which discharge the effluent into bodies of water. Instead, private septic systems leach directly into the moist soil which surrounds the septic system.
Fish, Frogs, Birds and Wildlife:
Several studies have confirmed that male fish have been pharmaceutically transgendered into female fish. Other studies have shown that frogs have been rendered reproductively sterile.
The United States Geological Survey does extensive research on pharmaceuticals in the environment. The USGS website has a great volume of scientific research on this topic. http://toxics.usgs.gov/highlights/pharmaceuticals.html
Prescription Drug Abuse:
Though medications are designed to make us healthy and keep us healthy, some medications (particularly opioid painkillers) have the potential to be addictive. Addiction often leads to medication misuse, abuse, diversion and desparate criminal activity including a transition to heroin. To help prevent prescription drug abuse, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) have recommended that all unwanted medications be disposed of responsibly.
Prescription Drug Theft:
Approximately 70% of medications used for non-medical/illicit purposes are stolen from household medicine cabinets by family members and friends. Needlessly keeping unwanted medications in medicine cabinets provides the thieves with a supply of drugs which can be stolen. Don't be an unwitting drug supplier. Responsibly dispose of unwanted medications immediately.
Brain Damage or Death:
The illicit use of certain medications, particularly when mixed with alcohol, can cause breathing to excessively slow or stop completely. The result can be brain damage or even death. When unwanted medications are needlessly kept, the chances increase for diversion and abuse. Responsible medication disposal can help prevent awful consequences.