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Drug Disposal: A Public Health Threat

The unsystematic disposal of prescription drugs is a currently underappreciated societal issue. Unused medications pollute landfills, ground water and drinking water, as well as enable suicide, poisoning and antibiotic resistance. These negative consequences are rampant, as 80% of monitored streams have measurable concentrations of prescription drugs, including steroids and hormones.  This ongoing problem can cause catastrophic injuries.

According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2007 approximately 27,000 United States citizens died of an unintentional drug overdose. That is, one death every nineteen minutes. Such grave statistics demand immediate action. Alameda County, California is the first county which has taken initiative and enacted legislation to coordinate the disposal of unused medications. The new law will charge drug companies for the safe collection and disposal of their own leftover product. Drug companies have long shirked the responsibility of recycling dangerous substances, and its cost thousands of lives. In order to protect our communities and environment, it is imperative that other counties follow Alameda's example and mandate the controlled disposal of drugs.

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