Beverly Hills police and the Drug Enforcement Agency collected 52 pounds of old prescription medication Saturday in an effort to get residents to safely dispose of unwanted pills.

The Take Back event, held between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, was designed as a safe way to clear unused drugs out of medicine cabinets. Old pills are a significant source of abused narcotic drugs, police said, and officials worry about children or pets eating the medicine accidentally.

The DEA sponsored Take Back events across the country and in more than 50 other locations throughout L.A. County.

Improper disposal can also be bad for the environment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says flushing old pills down the toilet can cause problem in rivers and lakes.

Among tips given by the FDA for proper disposal of drugs:

-    Do not flush drugs down the toilet unless the drug label says to do so.

-    If no “Take Back” programs are available, throw the drugs in the trash, but first mix the drugs in an undesirable substance, like coffee grounds or kitty litter, that will make the medication less appealing to children or pets, and toss them in a sealable bag.

-    Scratch out all identifying information on a medicine container to make it unreadable to protect your identity and privacy of your public health information.

The next Take Back event will probably be held in September or October, said Beverly Hills police Sgt. Max Subin. At last September’s Take Back event, 244 tons of prescription drugs were turned over at 5,200 sites across the country.

ALSO:

Road closures begin for Fiesta Broadway in downtown L.A.

Bellflower man dies after his car veers off Highway 91 in Cerritos

Granada Hills wins third national Academic Decathlon competition

Twitter: @ronlin | Facebook | Google+

ron.lin@latimes.com