Clinton County takes steps in Medical Waste Disposal

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Pat Bridson sorts through old medications.

Pat Bridson sorts through old medications.

By Jack Nissen
Clinton County Chatter

Pat Bridson, a pharmacist of Clinton County, would merely glance at each bottle of old medication before tossing them into cardboard boxes to be shipped to an incinerator. Along with a local police officer, they had filled up three cardboard boxes and it wasn’t even noon.

Bath Township hosted a medication disposal program for any residents of Clinton County on Saturday, March 18. The program is intended for anyone interested in throwing away used or old medications in a clean manner.

“It’s hard to believe they have so much of this stuff,” said Bridson. “It’s good to get these medications out of houses sooner rather than later so we don’t see them in the wrong hands.”

Bridson represents the Capital Area Pharmacist Association and this is his fifth year hosting these pick-up stations. His job is to take any medications brought in by community members and sort through them to decide where to send them.

Since the first pick-up date on April 18, 2009, the county’s Department of Waste Management has recorded more than 3,600 pounds of non-controlled substances that have been collected.

One of many boxes being filled with non-controlled substances.

One of many boxes being filled with non-controlled substances.

“Most of what we get is over-the-counter non-controlled substances. Those we take care of ourselves,” said Bridson. “The other kinds of drugs we get are controlled substances, such as Codeine and Vicodin. Those go to the sheriffs office before getting sent to an incinerator.”

The implementation of this process has been in response to several different issues arising from old medications not being recycled.

Kate Neese, the waste management coordinator for the county’s Department of Waste Management, has noticed a rise in prescription drug abuse.

“The police noticed an uptick in the controlled substances being abused by younger generations,” said Neese. “That’s why it’s so important to get this stuff out of houses.”

The ratio of drugs coming in of over-the-counter to prescription is about ten to one said Neese.

“Even though only about ten percent of the drugs we get are controlled substances, we want to handle them very carefully,” said Neese. “They’re a small amount, but contain a large toxicity.”

Neese noted that close to 350 pounds of these controlled substances have been collected by the police.

Residents of the community first came up with the idea to hold these programs not only to prevent addiction, but also to avoid more medical waste getting into the water.

“Even though hazardous waste, like medications, makes up a small percentage of the total waste stream, they are the most toxic part of our waste stream,” said Neese in an e-mail.

Bridson has noticed that since then, the amount of people disposing of waste has dropped in the last two years.

“It may seem like people aren’t taking advantage of this program, but that isn’t true,” said Bridson. “It’s encouraging because we are beginning see more programs doing this around the state. The more communities ridding the houses of medications, the better off we’ll be.”

Clinton County has two pharmacies participating in a program called Yellow Jug Old Drug. This program is year round and accepts all unused liquid, tablet or capsule drugs. Members of the county can go to either Sparrow Clinton Pharmacy or Laingsburg Central Pharmacy for disposal.

Sparrow Clinton Pharmacy can be reached at (989) 224-8155 while Laingsburg Central Pharmacy can be reached at (517) 651-1777.

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