The prescription pill disposal depository box at the Ottawa Police Department was emptied this week with the assistance of Jennifer Sines from Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru.
More than 181 pounds of controlled and noncontrolled medication was collected in the box since February and will be properly disposed of.
Ottawa Police Capt. Brent Roalson said, "I would personally like to thank all those who have participated to date, and as a reminder, this is a 'no-question-asked' disposal program."
"We know we are being exposed to other people's drugs through our drinking water, and that can't be good," Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment of the State University of New York at Albany, said in a press release.
Millions of Americans are ingesting daily a potentially dangerous cocktail of antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones every time they have a glass of water, according to a recent Associated Press investigation.
While researchers do not know what risks result from decades of persistent exposure to random combinations of pharmaceuticals, they know it can't be good. Recent studies have found these low-level combos can have an alarming effect on human cells and wildlife.
Despite the fact the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, scientists are worried about the long-term consequences to human health. Water providers rarely disclose results of pharmaceutical screenings, unless they are forced to report those levels.
The drugs get into the water through urine and people who flush their unused excess medications down the toilet. While wastewater is treated before it is discharged into reservoirs, rivers or lakes, most treatments do not remove all drug residue before some of the water is piped right back to consumers.
Experts say the best way to get rid of unwanted medications is to use such disposal sites as the Ottawa one.
The dropbox is in the police station lobby station and is accessible 24 hours a day.