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What's the problem with unwanted, expired, or unused medications?

  • Unwanted, expired and unused medication in the home phses safety and health threats.
  • Storage of medication can lead to abuse or poisoning. Poisoning is the second leading cause of accidental death in Minnesota
  • The non-medical use of prescription drugs ranks second only to marijuana as the most common form of drug abuse in America. Prescription drugs can be just as dangerous as street drugs when taken without a prescription or a doctor's supervision.
  • Medications flushed down the drain or disposed of in the trash can contaminate bodies of water, harm wildlife and end up in our drinking water supply

Where can I drop my medications off at?

What about prescription drug abuse?

  • Prescription drugs are easy to get, and most painkiller abusers reported getting them from friends or family, often for free. According to the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) 3/4 of people age 45 or older take an average of four prescription medications daily.
  • Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem, especially among teens. Most teens get prescription drugs from family members and friends, including the home medicine cabinet
  • Data shows that young people are not more likely to experiment with pain relievers than marijuana. 1/3 of all new abusers of presciption drugs in 2005 were 12-17 year olds. Every day, 2,500 youth ages 12 to 17 abuse a prescription drug for the first time
  • Pain relievers used recreationally are the second most commonly used drug in the U.S.
  • Though overall teen drug use is down nationwide, more teens abuse prescription drugs than any other illicit drug, except marijuana - more that cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined
  • Prescription drugs provide many benefits when used correctly under a doctor's care. But when abused they can be just as dangerous as illicit drugs, especially when taken with alcohol or illicit drugs.

What is the overall concern about the impact on our environment?

  • Studies have shown that pharmaceuticals are present in our nation's lakes and streams and that certain drugs may cause ecological harm. Scientists are uncertain of human health effects from pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in the environment.
  • The risks are uncertain because they have not yet been well studied.

Where can I learn more about pharmaceuticals and the environment?

Why can't I just flush what I don't need or put them in the trash?

  • Do NOT pour or flush medications down the sink or toilet. Research shows this can pollute the groundwater and be harmful to fish and wildlife. Municipal sewage treatment plants are not equipped for pharmaceutical and personal care product (PPCP) removal. Currently, there are no municipal sewage treatment plants that are engineered specifically for PPCP removal or for other unregulated contaminants. Effective removal of PPCPs from treatment plants varies based on the type of chemical and on the individual sewage treatment facilities
  • Medications that are placed in the trash and that are dumped into landfills can still be released into water, either from landfills that leach into groundwater, or when the leachate that is collected from landfills is treated in a sewage treatment plant.

What drugs are most often abused?

  • More than seven million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Each day, approximately 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America.
  • If unused or unwanted, remove these drugs from your home because they are most often abused
  • Painkillsers:Vicodin, Tylenol with Codeine, OxyContin, Percoset
    Depressants:Xanax, Valium, Nembutal
    Stimulants:Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta

When are the drop boxes available

  • Please contact your local drop off location for exact hours of operation. The Hastings location is a drive up and is available 24hrs a day 7 days a week
  • Apple Valley Police Department:(952) 953-2700
    Burnsville Police Department:(952) 895-4600
    Eagan Police Department:(651) 675-5700
    Farmington Police Department:(651) 280-6700
    Inver Grove Heights Police Department:(651) 450-2525
    Lakeville Police Department:(952) 985-2800
    Mendota Heights Police Department:(651) 452-1366
    Rosemount Police Department:(651) 423-4491
    Sheriff's Office (Hastings):(651)438-4710
    South St. Paul Police Department:(651) 554-3300
    West St. Paul Police Department:(651) 552-4200

Where are the drop boxes located?

What unwanted, unused or expired medications are accepted?

  • Medication from households are accepted in any form, including prescription, over-the-counter and pet medications. Examples Include:
  • Blister Packs
  • Capsules and pills
  • Creams and Gels
  • Inhalers
  • IV bags
  • Liquids
  • Patches
  • Powders
  • Strays
  • Tablets
  • Vials
  • EpiPens

Can I bring in medication for a relative?

  • Yes, you may bring in medication for a relative if that person is not able to bring in the medications him/herself.

Can I bring in medication that the nursing home gave me when my relative died?

  • Yes, you may.

Can I dispose of over-the-counter medications, herbal suppliments or vitamins?

  • Yes

Can I dispose of Medicated Patches?

  • Yes

Can I dispose of Inhalers?

  • Yes

Can I bring in my unused needles and syringes?

  • NO, needles and syringes are not accepted in the drop boxes. They are accepted for free at Dakota County's household hazardous waste collection site located at: 3365 Dodd Road, Eagan, (651) 905-4520

Can I bring in tubing and Catheters?

  • NO, these are not allowed. If they don't have needles attached, they can be placed in the trash. (Needles are accepted for free at Dakota County's household hazardous waste collection site located at: 3365 Dodd Road, Eagan, (651) 905-4520

What is NOT accepted?

  • NO needles, sharps (except EpiPens) or fever thermometers. Instead, bring these items to The Recycling Zone in Eagan (3365 Dodd Road, Eagan, (651) 905-4520)
  • NO medications from businesses, including health care facilities, long-term-care facilities, pharmacies, doctor's offices and veterinary clinics.

Is there any paperwork to fill out?

  • NO, you do not need to fill out any paperwork

Will I have to show an ID?

  • NO, drop-off is safe and anonymous. No ID is required and no questions will be asked.
  • The Hastings location is a drive-up.

How should I bring my medications?

  • Keep medications in their original container and place them in a sealed, clear plastic bag (pills can remain in their blister pack).
  • Use a marker to cross out your name on the medication containers.
  • Place the medication that is no longer in its original container in a clear plastic bag and write the name of the medication on the bag

What happens to the medications after I drop them off?

  • The medications are placed in special containers and securely stored by each law enforcement agency. When enough medications have been collected, they are taken under law enforcement escort to a waste-to-energy facility in Minnesota that is licensed to burn this type of waste. The medications are then destroyed

Is the disposal environmentally safe?

  • Incineration is environmentally safer than other disposal methods, such as flushing or placing in a landfill. The process is highly regulated by the state of Minnesota and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

How do I properly dispose of empty pill bottles?

  • Some empty pill bottles can be recycled. Plastic bottles labeled with #1 or #2 on the bottom are collected with curbside recycling programs. Remove the prescription label before recycling. Contact your recycling service provider, building manager, or city recycling coordinator for more information.
  • Plastic pill bottles labeled #5 on the bottom can be recycled through the Preserve Gimme 5 program at Whole Foods Markets in St. Paul (651-690-0197) and Minneapolis (612-927-8141).
  • Empty pill bottles that are not recyclable may be placed in the trash. Remove or black out the prescription label

Why can't I take it back to my drug store or pharmacist?

  • Some drug stores offer take-back programs for some medications. Residents can participate in these programs as an alternative to Dakota County's drop box collections.
  • Drug store take-back programs currently cannot take medications that are classified as "controlled substances" by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Controlled Substances are accepted at the Dakota County drop box collection sites.

Who is paying for this service?

  • Dakota County pays for this service with funds collected through the Dakota County Environmental Department. The program is a partnership between the Sheriff's Office, County Attorney and local Law Enforcement Agencies.

Why aren't the drug companies paying for this?

  • At this time, there are no laws requiring drug companies to pay for disposal of unwanted medicines, nor are there any voluntary programs. Some pharmacies have set up programs with third parties where customers can purchase a pre-paid envelope and mail unwanted drugs, not including controlled substances, to a disposal facility.
  • For now, local governments in Minnesota are taking the initiative to pay for the proper disposal of unwanted and unused medications

Will oyu be collecting information about me when I return my medication?

  • NO, Dakota County staff will not collect any personal information about you from the medication bottles that are disposed, nor will you be asked to show identification or fill out any forms.
  • If possible, mark out personal information from the labels on your medication bottle using a heavy duty marker.

How can I get more information?

  • For more information about proper handling of unwanted or expired medications, contact the Dakota County Sheriff's Office at (651) 438-4710.


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