By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Since 2012, people have dropped off almost 50 tons of unwanted prescription medication, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and pet medicine in Hennepin County Disposal boxes.

So, Sharon from Plymouth asks: How does law enforcement dispose of the drugs?

Common wisdom used to be that people should flush unwanted medicines down the toilet so adults and children don’t get their hands on medicine they shouldn’t.

But studies now show flushing can impact aquatic species and contaminate food and water supplies.

So, law enforcement agencies across the country began collecting the unwanted medicines. The Drug Enforcement Administration will hold its annual “National Take Back Day” on Saturday.

prescription drug disposal Good Question: How Does Law Enforcement Dispose Of Drugs?

(credit: CBS)

In Hennepin County, there are nine disposal boxes, and two more are set to open Thursday in Minneapolis.

Two officers empty them out regularly — sometimes once a day, sometimes once a week. The drugs are then stored before being taken, again by law enforcement, to an incinerator.

Federal law requires law enforcement stay with the drugs from collection through destruction.

“Once we get it, we don’t want it back in anyone’s hands that would abuse it, and, of course, environmentally we want to destroy it responsibly as well,” said Sgt. Rick Palaia with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

The drugs are burned at one of five incinerators across the state. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says the temperature inside the incinerators hits 1,800 degrees, destroying any harmful components in the drugs.

Illegal drugs collected as evidence by law enforcement across the state is also burned, but at a different location in Cottage Grove.

Most counties and many cities across the state have drop-off boxes for unwanted medication.

Contact your local law enforcement to find out where to dispose of your medicines.

[graphiq id=”j3T6ir14doh” title=”Deaths from Prescription Drugs in the United States” width=”600″ height=”489″ url=”” ]


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