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Area residents can safely dispose of unwanted or expired pharmaceuticals in Conover this week.
Conover Police Department (CPD) will host Operation Medicine Drop on Thursday and Friday near downtown. The event is part of a statewide effort through North Carolina Safe Kids, an organization that seeks to prevent accidental injuries in children.
Conover has hosted the event the past several years, along with 150 other law enforcement departments across the state.
â€śItâ€™s been a pretty good turnout at our recent events,â€ť said CPD Lt. Mark Stump.
Last March, CPD collected more than 7,000 different forms of medication in one day at Bowman Drug in downtown Conover.
This year, CPD will collect pharmaceuticals on Thursday from 1-4 p.m. at the CVS on Rock Barn Road. CPD will also have a collection on Friday from 1-4 p.m. at Bowman Drug.
The department welcomes all pharmaceuticals, medications or drugs for proper disposal.
â€śWe collect it like regular evidence and turn it into the SBI and they dispose of it, usually by incineration,â€ť Stump said.
Since 1999, about 4,500 people in North Carolina have died from prescription drug poisoning.
More than 75 percent of all unintentional poisonings are by over-the-counter and prescription drugs. About 40 percent of injuries from unintentional poisonings occur in children under the age of 5, according to Operation Medicine Drop and the N.C. Department of Insurance.
The collection events not only get unused or old pharmaceuticals away from children's hands at home, they also keep the areaâ€™s rivers and streams clean.
When old or unwanted pills are flushed down the toilet, they can easily seep into and contaminate water sources â€” affecting wildlife and even human drinking water.
More than 128 million prescriptions are filled statewide each year, and of those drugs dispensed, about 40 percent are never used. In a recent survey, about 89 percent of respondents said they disposed of medications in the garbage or flushed medications down the toilet or sink, which both can lead to water contamination, according to information provided by the N.C. Waterkeeper Alliance.
In 2004, the U.S. Geological Survey identified 100 different pharmaceuticals in surface water, including aspirin, caffeine, codeine, antibiotics and warfarin (a common blood thinner and sometimes a rat poison), according to the alliance.
Waterkeepers say antibiotics have also been found in surface water and the environment, which can lead to stronger bacteria resistance and thus, less-effective medicine. They say each year more than 65,000 Americans die from antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Operation Medicine Drop officials say the contamination is occurring in â€śsignificantâ€ť amounts in North Carolina and in more than 80 percent of U.S. waterways that have been tested.
For more information on Operation Medicine Drop, visit ncdoi.com/OSFM/SafeKids.