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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - nr-08-12 Operation Medicine Drop

Marine Fisheries

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Release: Immediate
Contact: Patricia Smith
Phone: 252-726-7021
Date: Mar. 7, 2012

Marine Fisheries to Host Operation Medicine Drop

MOREHEAD CITY — The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries wants people to keep our fish off drugs.

The division will host Operation Medicine Drop events in Morehead City and Wilmington and participate in a third event in Manteo, hosted by the Dare County Sheriff’s Office in partnership with N.C. Sea Grant and the N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island.

The events will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 22 at the following locations:

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries
Headquarters
3441 Arendell St.
Morehead City

N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Wilmington Regional Office
127 Cardinal Dr.
Wilmington

N.C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island
374 Airport Road
Manteo   
 

The public is invited to bring their unused or expired prescription and over-the-counter medications to these events and drop them off with qualified personnel who will ensure these drugs are safely incinerated. Law enforcement will be on hand to supervise the collection.

This method of disposal will keep these medications out of the hands of children, out of the hands of drug addicts and out of our coastal waters.

There is growing concern that flushing prescription drugs down the toilet may impact our coastal environment.

The sewage treatment and septic systems that receive wastewater from homes are designed to remove bacteria and viruses, but not chemicals. Medicines — pain killers, antibiotics, birth control and mood stabilizers — that go down the drain are turning up in rivers, lakes, streams and wells across the country.

Researchers are still studying what effect this may have on environmental and human health, but evidence suggests it is not good for marine life.

Some drugs can alter molting, growth, mating, reproduction and development of fish, shellfish and crustaceans. Drugs with hormones can alter sex organs so that they are malformed, exhibit both male and female reproductive organs, or produce more females than males.

Antidepressants can deter growth and reproduction and affect fish behavior, resulting in fish that are lethargic and more vulnerable to predators. Scientists have documented negative effects on American oysters, grass shrimp, rainbow trout, small mouth bass and other species.

Moreover, constant additions of antibiotics into our waterways can result in antibiotic resistant bacteria, making medicines used to treat infections less effective. Also, many lakes and rivers are used as human drinking water supplies.

Operation Medicine Drop is a partnership of Safe Kids North Carolina, the Riverkeepers of North Carolina, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of North Carolina and local law enforcement agencies working together to encourage the public to safely dispose of unused and unwanted medication.

The events are being held in conjunction with National Poison Prevention Week. Since 1999, 5,717 North Carolinians have lost their lives from unintentional poisonings. Non-fatal poisonings are especially common in children under the age of 5. More information is available at www.ncsafekids.org.
 
For more information on the division’s Morehead City event, contact Christine Jensen at 252-808-8068 or Christine.Jensen@ncdenr.gov. For information on the Wilmington event, contact Anne Deaton at 910-796-7315 or Anne.Deaton@ncdenr.gov.

For information about the Manteo event, contact Capt. Jeff Deringer, Dare County Sheriff's Office, at 252-475-9176 or jeff.deringer@darenc.com or Sara Mirabilio, N.C. Sea Grant, at 252-475-3663 or saram@csi.northcarolina.edu 

N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 1-800-682-2632

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