Mayor Richard M. Daley along with the Chicago Department of Environment and the Chicago Police Department launched a new program today that addresses the disposal of expired or unused prescription drugs by offering permanent prescription drop box locations at five Chicago Police Department Area Centers. Chicago is the first big city to offer permanent drop-off locations.
"Many people may not be aware that improperly disposing of prescription or over-the-counter drugs, such as flushing them down the toilet, contributes to pharmaceuticals found in our waterways," said Mayor Daley at a press conference at the 25th District Police Station, 555 W. Grand Ave., one of the new permanent prescription drop box locations. "Residents who have expired and unused pharmaceuticals are encouraged to use these drop boxes at police headquarters, 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
Chicago's drinking water is safe and meets or exceeds all standards of safety as established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). The majority of trace pharmaceuticals found in the City's waterways, however, are the result of human and livestock excretion.
Improperly disposing of prescription or over-the-counter drugs can also contribute to pharmaceuticals found in the City's water. Proper management and disposal has been found to lessen the impact of prescription drugs on the water system.
For example, this year the City has already been able to keep 2,400 pounds of prescription drugs out of the waste stream as a result of four neighborhood drop-off events in addition to the permanent drop-off site at the Household Chemicals and Computer Recycling Facility located at Goose Island.
"While research is continuing the impact of pharmaceuticals and personal care products on people and aquatic life, we know that we need to take action now to prevent them from getting into our waterways and lakes, and into our drinking water," said Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott.
Expired and unused pharmaceuticals can be disposed of in drop boxes at the five Chicago Police Department Area Centers. By using the police facilities as a drop-off location, the controlled substances will be deposited safely and kept under observation by law enforcement until they are destroyed. The centers are located at:
After the pharmaceuticals are put in the drop box, they will be periodically removed from the drop boxes and taken to the Goose Island facility for packaging. The packaged pharmaceuticals are then transported by the IEPA to a disposal facility for incineration. The disposal facility is permitted and contains state-of-the-art technology for controlling the air emissions generated from the incineration.
"Properly disposing of unwanted medicines helps protect our Great Lakes by keeping these contaminants out of waterways such as Lake Michigan," said EPA Regional Administrator Lynn Buhl. "EPA was pleased to fund this safe and convenient way for the public to get rid of their old and unwanted meds."
The collection of the pharmaceuticals is funded by the USEPA and the disposal is funded by IEPA. For more information, residents can call 312.744.7672 or visit www.cityofchicago.org/Environment