LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - A study by the University of Wisconsin Extension and Product Stewardship Institute reports that only 2% of unused medication is properly disposed of in Wisconsin.
"This is a problem in our community," said Lacie Ketelhut, Health Educator at the Cooperative Education Service Agency and member of the La Crosse County Prevention Network. "Just in the last two years our coalition has collected about 5,500 pounds of unused medication. Just in two years. And that's just, with the study, if that's only 2%, it shows that there's a lot. A lot that's out there."
The other 98% can turn into stockpiles for prescription drug abusers and poses a threat to the environment.
"You get a storage of them in your own home," said Ketelhut. "Which is one of the reasons why, for youth, prescription drugs can be such a problem. Because they're easily accessible through having them available in the home, not being secured."
And with growing reports of prescription medication abuse nationally, proper medication disposal is doubly important.
"Just flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash are not acceptable ways to discard unused medications anymore," said Ketelhut. "It's also important to store them safely. To know how many drugs you do have, make sure you're monitoring that. And that it's stored in a safe and secure place."
The La Crosse County Household Hazardous Materials Facility accepts non-controlled pharmaceuticals in their original containers during business hours. Controlled substances can only be dropped off during specific collection events.
The next collection of controlled substances is on February 16 at the La Crosse County Household Hazardous Materials Site, from 9am through noon.
Another collection will take place on April 27 from 10am through 2pm at four locations: the Onalaska fire department, Viterbo University Fine Arts Parking Lot, La Crosse County Household Hazardous Materials Site, and CESA #4 in West Salem.
For more information on medication drop offs in La Crosse County visit http://www.lacrossecounty.org/solidwaste/hhm/ .
The DNR press release on the unused medication study can be found at http://dnr.wi.gov/news/BreakingNews_Lookup.asp?id=2620 .
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