Program helps residents dispose of medication safely

Published on Mon, May 24, 2010
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Six local pharmacies in Bellingham are currently accepting unwanted and expired medications for secure, appropriate and legal disposal. Collection will protect public health and the environment by preventing accidental poisoning and reducing medications entering Bellingham Bay via down-the-drain disposal.

To participate in the free program, bring expired and unwanted medications to a participating pharmacy and show them to a pharmacist. The pharmacist will direct you to the collection bin. Acceptable items include prescription and over-the-counter medications and ointments as well as medication for pets.  For a complete list of unacceptable items, refer to the Bellingham Pharmaceutical Take-Bake Program brochure.

Collecting unwanted pharmaceuticals helps protect both people and aquatic life.  Unwanted medicines can pose a risk to human health and safety when stored in homes.  Most accidental poisonings in WA result from the improper use of medications.  Cleaning out medicine cabinets reduces this risk, especially for children. Evidence of medicine in water also has been linked to disruptions in the development of some aquatic organisms.

Currently participating pharmacies include:

•  Costco Pharmacy - 4299 Guide Meridian St.
•  Custom Rx Shoppe - 1313 E Maple St. #101
•  Fairhaven Market - 1401 12th St
•  Haggen Pharmacy, Barkley Village - 2900 Woburn St
•  Haggen Pharmacy, Meridian - 2814 Meridian
•  Hoagland Pharmacy - 2230 Yew St.

More pharmacies may be added.  Please call for updates, or visit the City of Bellingham website, at http://www.cob.org/services/environment/pharm-take-back-program.aspx

Although narcotics will not be accepted at this time, pharmacists can provide guidance for the best disposal practice for these items.  Federal Guidelines recommend placing controlled substances in a disposable container with lid or sealable bag, adding cat litter or coffee grounds and placing the sealed container in the trash.

A two-year, $25,780 grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency will cover costs associated with collection, disposal and management of the program.