Juneau residents dispose of 182 pounds of pills

Trooper Chris Umbs and JPD Officer Thomas Penrose man the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day table at Nugget Mall Saturday. (Photo by Casey Kelly/KTOO)

Juneau residents got rid of five boxes and 182 pounds of old, expired pills Saturday as part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

The twice-a-year event is sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and carried out by local law enforcement officials.

State Trooper Chris Umbs says prescription drug abuse is becoming more of a problem in Juneau.

“Big thing now is the kids are sampling prescription drugs, not knowing what the effects are, as well as, young adults and other people are breaking into houses now and trying to see if people have prescription drugs. That’s a big thing going on as well,” says Umbs.

Besides deterring crime, the take-back days are also meant to discourage people from flushing old drugs down the toilet. According to the DEA, 80 percent of drinking water tested in the U.S. contains trace amounts of prescription medication. Umbs says there’s probably nothing to worry about, but it’s better to dispose of the pills properly.

“There’s nothing out there that’s showing that we’re getting sick because of what’s in the water, because the water treatment plants I guess are doing a good enough job of screening the water and getting it chemically treated before it’s coming back out,” Umbs says. “But to help out the water treatment plant, let’s not put so much in the water and make it easier for them.”

Umbs says the pills collected in Juneau will be shipped to Anchorage for disposal.

This is the fourth National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day since the event debuted in 2010.