While western Suffolk County has long had a medication disposal program, the East End has been without a way to regularly dispose of unused or expired medications until now.
Starting Oct. 21, police departments across the East End will have medication drop boxes, easily accessible to the public.
Group for the East End, the county and local police are launching the program as part of a county grant that the Group applied for last year, according to Jennifer Hartnagel, a senior environmental advocate at the Group.
Proper disposal helps prevent drug misuse, drug abuse, and harm to children and pets, while also preventing drinking water, harbors and bays from contamination, as medications are often flushed down the toilet.
Southampton Town, East Hampton Town and Village, Southold Town, Shelter Island Town, Sag Harbor Village, Westhampton Village, and Riverhead Town police departments are participating. Bins will be set up at each department's headquarters.
The Suffolk County Police Department accepts medications under a similar program, and various short-term campaigns to properly dispose of medications have been held on the East End, such as with the
Great Peconic Take-Back through The Peconic Independent Pharmacy Association.
The police departments will be bringing the medications to an incinerator approved by the Department of Environmental Conservation, Hartnagel said. The only one on Long Island is in Huntington, she said.
"There has been a need for a simple, safe and confidential way to properly dispose of medication on the East End," Bob DeLuca, the president of the Group said in a statement.
No contact with police is necessary when dropping off medications.
Medication accepted are expired or unwanted over the counter medications, prescription drugs, including antibiotics and controlled substances, pills, powders, liquids and EPI pens, and pet medications. Syringes, medical waste, and mercury thermometers are not accepted.
"I applaud Group for the East East, Suffolk County and the police departments for being part of an initiative that will protect the public and environmental health of the East End," State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., I-Sag Harbor, said in a statement. "This consistent, convenient program will keep medicines out of our beautiful and ecologically important drinking, ground and surface water resources."
Do you think is a much-needed program and will you use it? Tell us in the comments below.