Two wrongs don’t make a right. But multiple government agencies partnering to protect our environment and human health can definitely right a wrong.
In 2016, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Board of Pharmacy, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Ramsey County worked in partnership to educate communities and organize a voluntary collection of mercury-containing cosmetics and other potentially harmful imported pharmaceuticals. This effort was in response to a growing problem of vendors illegally selling mercury-laced skin creams and lotions, and imported drugs that were either counterfeit or non-FDA approved, and specifically targeting African and Asian communities in Minnesota.
This project included a series of planning and public informational meetings, distributing educational materials, and culminated in a voluntary collection event at the Hmongtown Marketplace in St. Paul, last September. The collection was deemed a great success. The cosmetics collected were managed as household hazardous waste and properly disposed of by Ramsey County. The pharmaceuticals were collected as FDA-confiscated material and managed by law enforcement.
For going above and beyond their normal scope of work to educate exploited citizens in Minnesota’s African and Asian communities, the MPCA thanks its staff and partnering agencies for helping collect and dispose of harmful hazardous waste.