LONG ISLAND, NY – If you were to randomly take a look in the ol’ bathroom medicine cabinet, you’d probably find that we’re all guilty of it to one degree or another; stockpiling old pills, capsules, and caplets from doctor’s prescriptions of days gone by. However, if your first urge is to simply throw these annoyances away like normal trash, you should stop yourself; you may be making a serious mistake, according to Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Nassau).
Hannon said that unused meds can pose numerous risks to the community, and that he feels it’s important for each and every local resident to do their part in helping him ensure that they are gotten rid of in a safe, responsible manner. How, you may ask? At the Senator’s “Shed the Meds” events, one of which was recently held at the Farmingdale Public Library.
“Holding on to expired medication of any kind is dangerous for us and our loved ones, and improperly disposing of these expired pills is dangerous for our entire community,” he said. “That’s why I host these ‘Shed The Meds’ events, so residents can safely dispose of unwanted and unused prescription drugs. Safe disposal helps protect the environment and keeps medications out of the hands of young children or others who would use them improperly.”
Shed the Meds was set up at a table in front of the library so that locals could easily drive up and hand off their unwanted meds and materials; Kit Aberman, Hannon’s Legislative Aide in change of Special Events, said that the Senator has been involved in the program, which is carried out at different times throughout the country, for about four years and running.
“We’ve been holding them at various locations throughout Nassau County over the years…this is probably the fifth or sixth time we’ve held one, and our second in Farmingdale,” she said. “The drugs we collect here are taken by the police department and are properly disposed of, as opposed to putting them in your garbage or your toilet; in addition to possibly getting into the wrong hands, it could pollute the water the water system and the ground that we use to grow food.”
Officer Gibbons of the Nassau County Bureau of Special Operations was on-hand to see to the proper collection and eventual destruction of the expired medication that was being dropped off at the Library.
“When we’re done here, we’re going to transport the material to Police Headquarters, where it will be destroyed by incineration,” he said. “This is the first time the Bureau of Special Ops is doing this duty…I know this has been done many times before with different officers, but this is the first time we’re doing it, and we’re proud to be serving the community in this way.”
On average, Aberman noted that Hannon’s Shed the Meds program collects seven to eight full Hefty garbage bags full of expired meds dropped off by locals per event. In addition, the Long Island Minority AIDS Coalition (LIMAC) was on hand to collect used syringes and other sharp medical items; LIMAC member Lisa Loeffler detailed how her group disposes of such material.
“We’ve been involved in the Shed the Meds program for a little over a year now,” she said. “When we’re finished here for the day, we will take the syringes we’ve collected over to Nassau University Medical Center where they will be disposed of. We also have a waste hauler that visits out facility and hauls off whatever we’ve collected as well. It’s obviously important to dispose of this stuff in the proper manner, as they can be very hazardous.”
Farmingdale resident Frank Fitzsimmons had driven up in his minivan to hand off a bag of pills that he and his wife had been holding onto for just this sort of event.
“My wife and I are on a lot of medications from doctors, and they change them sometimes, so we don’t know what to do with the old meds…they won’t take them back at the drug stores,” he said. “So, we held on to them and waited for this event to happen. We participated last year as well, and it was very helpful to just have someplace where you can just drive up and hand off your old meds.”
Mary Asalone, a Bethpage resident, participated in the Shed the Meds programs by delivering a huge bag of various medical goods to Police Officers, who gladly added her items to the swelling pile of garbage bags collecting behind them.
“I do feel that I don’t want it to go down the drain or into the soil and polluting our drinking water,” she said. “I’ve been saving my meds up for this event. I participated last year as well, and I think it’s a great service to offer.”