An opportunity to drop off old or unwanted prescription medications to have them disposed of safely is available this weekend at Mount St. Mary's Hospital.
The Niagara County Refuse Disposal District has obtained state permission to hold its first-ever pharmaceutical collection day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the hospital, 5300 Military Road.
For many years, people have been advised that the best way to get rid of unused medications is to flush them down the toilet. However, recent studies have shown that this disposal method affects the water supply.
"They pollute the Great Lakes, which are our No. 1 source of drinking water," said County Legislator John D. Ceretto, chairman of the Refuse District board. "It's doing all kinds of havoc to the fish, too."
In recent years, traces of hormones and chemical compounds from pharmaceutical products have been found in water supplies and marine life.
"Doctors change these prescriptions all the time. People collect these prescriptions," said Ceretto, R-Lewiston. "Sometimes children are getting into these prescription drugs and using them or selling them. What we're offering is a safe disposal of these drugs."
The medicines collected Saturday will be burned in the Covanta trash incinerator in Niagara Falls, according to Fred Caso, spokesman for Mount St. Mary's.
He said the program was set up by Refuse District Director Richard P. Pope and Christopher J. Jadoch, head pharmacist at the hospital.
People bringing in medications for disposal won't even have to get out of their cars. The drop-off point will be located at the hospital's north entrance, Caso said.
According to the plan, all medicines collected will be inventoried by a pharmacist acting under Lewiston police supervision, and both a police officer and a pharmacist will transport the medications to the incinerator after the collection.
The plan also calls for the hospital's video surveillance cameras to help prevent any drug-related mishaps or mischief Saturday.