Residents throughout central Ohio are being given a chance to safely dispose of unused medication.

With the region in the throes of what many in medical fields and law enforcement call a heroin and opioid epidemic, it is critical that unused painkillers reach a safe disposal site, said Jose Rodriguez, a spokesman for Columbus Public Health.

The drug drop-off is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at Columbus Public Health, 240 Parsons Ave. It is part of the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

“At some point we all have medications at home that have been left over,” Rodriguez said. “This is a great way of disposing of them safely – good for the environment, good for the family.”

Health officials will accept prescription drugs, over-the-counter medication, patches, pet medications and needles.

Items that will not be accepted include liquids, gel caps, aerosol cans, thermometers and inhalers.

Those items, however, are being collected from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. April 29 at other sites, such as the Franklin Township Police Department, 2193 Frank Road, and seven Kroger Co. locations: 300 S. Hamilton Road, 55 W. Schrock Road, 4656 Cemetery Road, 3637 S. High St., 1375 Chambers Road, 6095 Gender Road and 2090 Crown Plaza Drive.

Last October, Americans turned in 366 tons of prescription drugs at nearly 5,200 sites operated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and more than 4,000 of its state and local law-enforcement partners, Rodriguez said.

The events are free, anonymous and open to anyone in Franklin County, said Hanna Greer-Brown, a spokeswoman for the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio.

“Just simply show up at one of the participating locations and hand over your medications to law-enforcement partners who are on hand and your medications will be properly and safely disposed of,” Greer-Brown said. “While none of these locations requires residents to remove pill-bottle labels or dispose of medications in special bags, residents might want to consider removing or covering – for example, with a dark marker – personal information on prescription labels.

“Residents should also know that they can request that pill bottles be emptied ... during the event and immediately returned to them for disposal of their own choosing.”

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary