Program Helps Protect Nation's Waterways
HARRINGTON PARK, NJ, April 21, 2011
United Water and the National Community Pharmacists Association National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) announced a partnership today to encourage people throughout the United States to properly dispose of their unused or expired medications in an environmentally-friendly manner. A major part of the campaign will center around the NCPA's website dedicated to the program - www.DisposeMyMeds.org - that directs people to their local independent pharmacy where they can drop off their unused medications.
In addition to the inherent value of the program, United Water has embarked on the effort as a preemptive measure aimed at enhancing the quality of drinking water sources. Each year, Americans fill more than four billion prescriptions. As much as one third of that medication, though, will never be used, generating about 200 million pounds of pharmaceutical waste. Some of that finds its way to rivers, lakes and streams that make up our nation's water supplies.
"Some trace levels of pharmaceutical compounds have been detected in waterways throughout the world," said Brent Fewell, vice president of environmental compliance at United Water. "With no technology available today to effectively remove prescription drugs from water, proper disposal is currently our only remedy." In addition to the DisposeMyMeds.org program, Fewell noted that United Water is also spearheading leading-edge research initiatives aimed at removing compounds from the water.
"The presence of pharmaceuticals in the nation's water should come as no surprise," said Robert Greenwood, president of the NCPA. "Prescription medications, as well over-the-counter drugs, enter the environment in two ways. They are excreted by the human body or they are discarded. The old recommended method of getting rid of many medications had been to flush them down the toilet or pour them down the drain."
Greenwood explained that the conventional wisdom was to dispose of medicines by flushing them down toilets, rather than disposing of them in trash, to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. "Now we realize the potential impact of some pharmaceutical compounds in our waterways and the new emphasis on an environmentally-safer means of disposal," he said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set forth guidelines on disposal of drugs that are not specifically labeled for flushing. The EPA encourages the public to take advantage of "drug take back" programs, and outlines how residents in communities without such facilities can safely dispose of pharmaceuticals. More information on those guidelines can be found at: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/publications/pdf/prescrip_disposal.pdf.
"American Rivers applauds United Water and the National Community Pharmacists Association for being proactive and working to protect the nation's rivers and streams from pharmaceutical products," said Betsy Otto, vice president of conservation and strategic relationships for American Rivers, a national non-profit conservation group. "While this effort won't completely eliminate the problem of these chemicals getting into our waters, it's a valuable step and it's refreshing to see an initiative in which parties come together, recognize the potential for the problem and work together to find a solution."
To find a participating pharmacy near you, visit www.DisposeMyMeds.org.
About National Community Pharmacists Association
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) represents America's community pharmacists, including the owners of more than 23,000 independent community pharmacies, pharmacy franchises, and chains. Together they represent a $93 billion health-care marketplace, have more than 315,000 employees, including 62,400 pharmacists, and dispense over 40 percent of all retail prescriptions.
The online resource, DisposeMyMeds.org, is an organization composed of a diverse group of environmental, trade, pharmaceutical, government and private companies focused on the safe disposal of pharmaceutical compounds.
About United Water
United Water is one of the nation's leading environmental companies, providing water and wastewater services to approximately 7 million people in the United States. In addition to owning and operating 20 water utilities, the company operates more than 200 municipal and industrial water and wastewater systems through innovative public-private partnerships and contract agreements. United Water's affiliate, Utility Service Company, is the nation's leading provider of long-term asset management contracts for water storage facilities with municipal and industrial clients. Founded in 1869, United Water is a subsidiary of SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT.
About SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT
Natural resources are not infinite. Each day, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT (Paris: SEV, Brussels: SEVB) and its subsidiaries deal with the challenge to protect resources by providing innovative solutions to industries and to millions of people. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT supplies drinking water to 91 million people, provides wastewater treatment services for 61 million people and collects the waste produced by 50 million people. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT has 79,554 employees and, with its presence on a global scale, is the world's leader exclusively dedicated to environmental services. SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT, a 35.4% GDF SUEZ affiliate, reported sales turnover of 13.9 billion Euros ($18.5 billion USD) at the end of financial year 2010.
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