Published: Sep 05, 2012 10:46 AM EDT

PUNTA GORDA, Fla.- The Charlotte County Sheriff's Office in Punta Gorda dedicated its third drop off site Tuesday for residents to properly dispose of unwanted medications. Since “Operation Medicine Cabinet” began June 15, 2011, the CCSO has collected1,310.61 poundsof unused medications for disposal.

The program began 15 months ago with two public disposal drop boxes at the Englewood District-1 Office and the District-4 Office in Port Charlotte. The new box at the Sheriff’s Admin building is available in the lobby during normal office hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

According to CCSOEvidence SupervisorErin Hume, “Proper disposal of unwanted medications is important to public safety since wastewater treatment systems are not designed to remove many types of medications. Residents can contaminate groundwater supply and drinking water by flushing drugs down the toilet or pouring medications down the sink. All of the drugs collected will be destroyed properly by court ordered incineration.”

Chief Deputy Bill Prummell(Sheriff-Elect), “CCSO’s Operation Medicine Cabinet is in partnership with Drug Free Charlotte County and working withDFCC Director Amity Chandler. We are now providing three secure locations for citizens to dispose of unused or expired prescription and non-prescription medications. Citizens have access to secured boxes to deposit their medications in for proper disposal. Instructions are posted above the depository to assist in the disposal process and to provide information listing the acceptable types of medication for disposal.”

CCSO is collecting controlled, non-controlled and over the counter substances. Participants may dispose medication in its original container; labels identifying the patient should be removed; medication can also be removed from its container and disposed of directly into the collection box; and liquid products such as cough syrup should remain sealed to prevent leakage.Intravenous solutions and syringeswill not be accepteddue to the potential hazard posed by blood-borne pathogens.

For those having questions about transporting and disposal of unused medications, or questions in general, please contact the Port Charlotte District-4 Office in Promenades Mall, 3280 Tamiami Trail, at 941-258-3900; the District-1 Office in Englewood, 6868 San Casa Road, at 941-475-9005; or, the CCSO Administrative building, 7474 Utilities Road, Punta Gorda, at 941-639-2101 (across from the Punta Gorda Airport along Golf Course Boulevard).