Group Receives Grant to Keep Pharmaceuticals Out Of Local WatersDecember 6, 2011
December 6, 2011 (Suffolk County, New York) – In November, Group for the East End received a $45K grant through the Suffolk Couty 1/4 percent sales tax “Drinking Water Protection Program” to implement the Pharmaceutical Disposal and Aquifer Protection Initiative within the five East End towns of Long Island.
The initiative addresses the environmental and human health impacts of improper disposal of medications by providing East End police departments with lock boxes where residents can properly dispose of unwanted or expired medications. In addition, the initiative seeks to fund a public outreach and education campaign to reach the approximately 88,000 households that make up Riverhead, Southold, Southampton, Shelter Island and East Hampton Towns.
Long Island is quickly coming to terms with the impacts of pharmaceutical contamination in our waters. Exposure and health effects are not limited to human populations but are well documented in natural systems. According to the U.S. Geologic Survey, 75 percent of the wastewater entering our drinking water in Suffolk County comes from domestic cesspools. While greater study is required, the need to reduce inputs is understood.
“Getting medications out of the traditional waste stream is the easiest, most cost-effective way to protect both human and environmental health,” said Jeremy Samuelson, a Group for the East End Environmental Advocate who is leading the project. “People understand that the decades-old practice of dumping these chemicals into our drinking water cannot continue, but they also need accessible alternatives. The lock box program is a model that has worked in other communities, including western Suffolk.”
The five East End towns program will mirror and interface with a pharmaceutical lock box program launched by the Suffolk County Police Department in 2010. More than 900 pounds of medications were collected during the first six months of that ongoing program, dubbed Operation Medicine Cabinet.
The Pharmaceutical Disposal and Aquifer Protection Initiative enjoys broad support from six police departments, S.C.W.A., Riverhead Water District, the Suffolk County Cancer Awareness Taskforce, Fighting Change, numerous environmental advocacy organizations, addiction treatment and intervention agencies, and healthcare service providers.
Kate Fullam, Director of Community Outreach
631-765-6450, ext. 208