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DEA Helping Others Dispose Expired Drugs Properly

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DONNA – The National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, Oct. 28. The campaign was created by the DEA to not only combat drug abuse but to inform others of the proper way to dispose of unused or unwanted medication.

Related story: DEA to Hold Drug Take-Back Day at Various Valley Locations

Sergio Abundiz Jr. uses medication for a number of conditions such as ADHD.

"So I took some of those packs and different medications involving anxiety and that kind of stuff," he said.

Abundiz said he doesn't know what to do with medication after it expires, so they just sit in his medicine cabinet.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to Jonas Gonzalez, the public utilities director for Donna, to see how disposing of these pills improperly can harm you and the environment.

"It is concerning. It's a problem and it’s difficult to monitor. It’s pretty dangerous a lot of folks. I think we've all been guilty of it at some point – of wanting to get rid of some old medication and just flushing it down the toilet," said Gonzalez,

Gonzalez explained wastewater treatment plants typically can't break down medications completely.

He said wastewater plants are designed to remove biodegradable and conventional pollutants, not man-made pollutants like medications.The pills stay in the water because the plant can't break them down. 

"And that at some point finds its way it just goes through our treatment process and finds its way in the environment," said Gonzalez.

It's not just the environment that's the problem. He said they also find their way back to your house.

"It is everybody's problem when you think about it because once you flush it down the toilet it's finding its way back to you," he said.

Gonzalez said a person should avoid flushing prescriptions at all costs. They should also avoid throwing them away in the trash where children and pets can get a hold of them.

To find information on a National Prescription Drug Take-Back initiative collection site near you, visit the DEA webpage.

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