SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Nov. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The most common poisons that threaten our beloved pets are our own medicines—drugs such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, antidepressants, and ADHD medications. Any medication, even those prescribed for a pet, can pose a risk to dogs or cats that might eat whatever they find.

For this reason and more, the National Sea Grant College Program and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) have forged a formal partnership to raise awareness about the need for proper storage and disposal of unused medicines.

Pets, of course, are not the only victims of accidental poisonings. The Journal of Pediatrics recently reported that between the years 2001-2008, more than 430,000 children five years or younger were brought to emergency rooms due to self-ingested medicines. And, in the larger picture, drug-related deaths now outnumber motor vehicle fatalities, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

What's more, pharmaceuticals are turning up in the environment. "Medicine disposal has become an emerging issue as numerous studies have found pharmaceuticals in drinking water and in lakes and rivers," said Laura Kammin, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) pollution prevention specialist. "The long term impacts are not known, but it's clear that flushing medicines or throwing them in the trash contributes to the problem."

"We are excited about this collaborative effort involving the AVMA and NOAA's National Sea Grant College Program," said Mike Liffmann, Extension Leader for the National Sea Grant Office. "Our Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant colleagues will, on behalf of the National Sea Grant College Program, lead this joint outreach and education effort aimed at ensuring that leftover or unused medications for animals are disposed of properly so they cannot harm people, the animals or the environment."