Noticing an uptick in the amount of prescription medications and syringes used for medications or drug abuse that have been cleaned up by city volunteers - just reaching 100,000 pounds in 2016 - the County Health Department and the Sonoma County Water Agency staff reached out to the council for input on how to best tighten up the manner in which residents would have access to ways in which they could safely dispose of these medications. The reason the Water Agency is involved is because the amount of medications being flushed/dumped in the waterways creates an environmental and health danger.
Their proposal is a mixture of two successful ordinances currently used in Alameda County: the Safe Drug Disposal Ordinance and the Safe Consumer-Generated Sharps Disposal Ordinance. Parts of the program deal with making sure that disposal areas are available by pharmacies when possible, and that a mail-back program is put into place for syringes/sharps. It was noted that having access to good disposal methods for syringes was important for those using them as it is for those tasked with cleaning them up as the needles often poke out of plastic garbage bags, or through rubber shoe soles. Besides being exposed to any medication or drug residue on the needle, workers are potentially exposed to blood-borne illnesses.
Besides the concerns about making safe disposal options available for those using the medications/drugs, attention was brought to the current opioid epidemic, and how giving people an easy way to restrict the availability of unused medications in the home would lessen the chance that young people or those who abuse the medications would have access to them.
The council directed the agencies to move forward with the proposal, after discussing questions of how return-mail envelopes would be provided, and how to address labeling of medications.