Public safety benefit of drug, cellphone turn-in program

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This coming Saturday's Prescription Take Back Day is good for the environment, but it's even better for the safety of the public.

The program allows people to bring to the Walla Walla Police Department prescription drugs no longer needed or with expired use-by dates for proper disposal. Improper disposal of medications can contaminate water when drugs are sent down the drain into the sewage system.

And, more importantly, this will get rid of drugs that can be abbused by addicts if found in the trash or even your home. Addicts often target prescription pain killers such as OxyContin, codeine and Vicodin.

But this year's event is a two-fer. People can also get rid of their unwanted cellphones -- and help others in the process.

The old phones will be used to build a local cellphone bank that provides phones for 9-1-1 emergency use to victims of domestic violence and senior citizens.

The donated phones are sent to a processing center where they are cleared of personal information and either discarded properly or refurbished. Refurbished phones are then sent back to Walla Walla for distribution.

In 2010, the prescription disposal event took in more than 100 pounds of drugs. Similar events across the nation last September netted 121 tons of unneeded prescription drugs.

The local Prescription (and Cellphone) Take Back Day is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the department on Third Avenue and Rose Street.

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