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Saturday's drug take-back day benefits Great Lakes' waters

Saturday is the day to take your unused pharmaceuticals back to one of several collection sites available across the Buffalo Niagara region.

The twice-a-year program is designed to make sure the drugs don't fall into the wrong hands.

As an added benefit, it also protects the environment and area waterways, according to New York Sea Grant.

New York Sea Grant's "Dose of Reality" fact sheet explains how medications and chemicals make their way into area waterways and what the dangers are. (New York Sea Grant)

That's why Sea Grant is encouraging residents to return any unused medications to collection sites during the 13th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day that runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

"Taking unused prescription drugs to collection sites helps reduce the impact of unwanted substances on the water resource that provides drinking water to 42 million people in the United States and Canada and aquatic habitat for a host of fishes and other wildlife," said Helen Domske of New York Sea Grant and associate director of the Great Lakes Program at the University at Buffalo.

Domske authored a guide which provides answers about the program.

The guide, entitled "Undo the Environmental Chemical Brew: Keep Unwanted Medications and Chemicals Out of the Great Lakes," lists 17 different types of pharmaceuticals and personal care products that are making their way into Great Lakes' drinking water supplies.

Included among them are antibiotics, hormones, contraceptives, anti-depressants, cosmetics, vitamins and others.

Studies show those chemicals are altering genders of aquatic life and fish populations in the Great Lakes.

"Researchers are increasingly documenting the impact of bio-active chemical substances in pharmaceuticals and personal care products throughout the aquatic food web on fishes, frogs, mussels and other freshwater organisms," Domske said. "We do not want people flushing unwanted and unused medicines down the toilet or drain."

Some of the local sites include SUNY Buffalo State, the West Seneca Senior Center, Kenmore Mercy Hospital and St. Joseph's in Cheektowaga.

Find your collection site by visiting the federal prescription drug Diversion Control Division website of the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

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