Last month, representatives from eight Sea Grant programs attended a two-day workshop in Jacksonville, FL hosted by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. Designed as an opportunity for specialists, educators, and communicators to build a national partnership on reducing pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in the nation’s waterways, the event was a first step in working towards coordinating these efforts.

Funded by the NOAA National Sea Grant Office, the workshop brought together a wide range of input from people who have extensive experience working on the issue of PPCPs in waterways, allowing for a tremendous collaboration.

Out of the two-day workshop came a unified message: The ways people choose to use and dispose of PPCPs impacts water quality everywhere.

In months to come, workshop participants will continue to work together to develop programs that carry that message to local communities.

“This is a national problem that requires local action. Sea Grant’s new working group is well-suited to tackle this issue because each program is trusted in their communities,” said Laura Kammin, IISG pollution prevention program specialist. “We are sharing our resources to create a strong and effective national partnership.”

The meeting also provided an opportunity for representatives from New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant programs to mentor others by sharing their award-winning work on reducing PPCPs in the Great Lakes basin. These and other discussions opened the door for collaboration with the North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Oregon, and Southern California Sea Grant programs.

IISG has been providing communities with information about how to start safe, legal medicine collection programs since 2006. So far, IISG has helped 63 communities in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan with single-day or permanent collection programs, ensuring the proper disposal of 9.65 million pills (81,813 pounds of unused medication).

For more information on IISG’s efforts to spread the word about proper use and disposal of PPCPs visit www.unwantedmeds.org.