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Disposal day to boost awareness

By: Bruce Warren Journal Staff Writer
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The state Legislature has proclaimed Oct. 4-11 as “No Drugs Down the Drain Week” and Auburn will participate in the awareness drive. Area residents wishing to safely dispose of outdated household medicines can do so from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Auburn City Hall parking lot on Lincoln Way. The Transfer Station on Shale Ridge Road does not offer this service, according to Michelle White, an environmental resource specialist with Placer County. However, Western Placer Waste Management Authority on Fiddyment Road in Roseville offers free disposal of pharmaceuticals and sharps to individuals only, not facilities such as medical clinics or veterinarians. The facility is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. An investigation by the Associated Press revealed that the drinking water of at least 41 million Americans is contaminated with pharmaceutical drugs. Flushing medications down the toilet will contaminate streams and ground water and also affect fish and wildlife. “Several studies have shown that exposure to pharmaceuticals can result in abnormal development and reproduction for fish and other wildlife,” White said. “The threshold of exposure for this is very low. Other studies have shown that it has been related to skewing gender ratios of fish and their sex characteristics. That’s where male fish begin to display female characteristics.” Disposing of outdated household drugs can be a costly procedure for pharmacies. Auburn Drug Company on Lincoln Way is one of many pharmacies statewide that do not offer that service. “We’re too busy and it’s too expensive of a problem to get into,” said Charlie Fink, owner of Auburn Drug. “With the narcotic problems, we just don’t want to get into it. It’s just too much paperwork to get involved in.” Placer County, the City of Auburn and City of Roseville are all sponsoring two free drop-off events for unused and expired medications as part of “No Drugs Down the Drain Week.” Collection sites are open to Placer County residents. Any medication can be brought for disposal except syringes or sharps, according to White. “As far as I am aware of this is our first pharmaceutical-only event,” White said of the drop-off at city hall. Auburn resident Rick Salaices, who was sipping some coffee in downtown Auburn Tuesday, said he sees value in the program. “It will bring awareness to people to be more responsible,” Salaices said. “It’s good to be more aware of what we’re doing to our environment.” Placer County sponsored a hazardous household waste disposal collection in Foresthill and Colfax last summer where expired and unused medications were accepted. Other organizations involved with the public outreach awareness program are the California Association of Sanitation Agencies along with state and regional waters boards. Placer County is participating as a member of the Central Valley Clean Water Association.