Nine different locations — including the one in the north parking lot of Tracy City Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — throughout the county will take part in Saturday’s event, which is sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Agency, local law enforcement and the San Joaquin County Public Works Department, which operates a household hazardous waste facility.
Prescription medications of all kinds, including controlled substances such as narcotic painkillers, can be disposed of free charge and anonymously.
Tracy police officials said that removing unused prescriptions from a home can prevent misuse and abuse of the drugs, along with removing the potential of a burglary.
While removing the medications is important, Kimbra Andrews of county public works said their safe handling has become a team effort that benefits people and the environment.
“We discourage the public from flushing their prescriptions, because it can hurt the environment” Andrews said.
Once in the water system, medications can be hazardous to both people and wildlife, and they cannot be removed by water treatment plants.
A 2002 study by the Unites States Geological Survey found that 80 percent of streams in the United States had measurable amounts of prescription medication, including steroids and hormones.
At Saturday’s event, all types of prescriptions, including liquids, can be turned in, though only a law enforcement official can physically collect a controlled substance.
Prescriptions can be brought in their bottles, but authorities ask residents to remove all personal information or labels from the containers.
Used medical sharps from home will also be accepted. “Sharps” include hypodermic needles, syringes and lancets used to give medications or take blood samples. These items should be placed in a sealed biohazard container or sturdy plastic vessel, such as an empty bleach jug or coffee can with a sealing lid.
Officials hope to make the event a twice-a-year collection.