It has been nearly one year since IISG set sail on Lake Michigan to sample for plastic pollution. Since then, Sam Mason, a chemist from State University of New York Fredonia, and her research team have been hard at work analyzing those water samples. The initial results are revealed in the latest edition of IISG’s interview series UpClose.
In this issue, Mason talks about her ongoing work to quantify plastic pollution in the Great Lakes for the first time. In addition to the Lake Michigan results, Mason discusses plastic levels in the other four lakes, explains how plastics could impact aquatic wildlife, and suggests additional research needed to understand this emerging contaminant.
This is the sixth edition of UpClose, which takes readers behind the scenes of the latest research on pharmaceuticals and personal care products. Each interview targets a different component of PPCP research—everything from what happens to pharmaceuticals when water is treated to what bacterial resistance could mean for other aquatic wildlife living in urban rivers. Readers also get an insider’s view of the complex, and sometimes tricky, process of conducting field studies, and the potential implications of research on industries and regulations.
Read previous issues of UpClose at unwantedmeds.org. For print copies, contact Pollution Prevention Program Specialist Laura Kammin.
“IISG has been instrumental in providing financial assistance for take-back programs in Indiana,” said Scott Morgan, IHHWTF president. “Without this support, some of the programs may not have been established.”
The $1,000 gift will go to purchasing secure collection boxes for communities interested in creating permanent prescription disposal drop-off locations. These types of easy disposal locations help to prevent unused medicine from contaminating aquatic environments, protect children and pets from accidental poisonings, and reduce prescription or over-the-counter drug abuse.
IHHWTF has provided financial support to programs working to reduce household waste for several years. The task force works with private and public groups across Indiana to educate the public on the proper handling and disposal of a range of environmentally-harmful chemicals—from medicines to batteries to motor oil.
Communities interested in starting their own medicine take-back program can contact Laura Kammin with questions and for additional support.
A new interview series takes readers behind the scenes of the latest research on pharmaceutical and personal care products (PPCP). In UpClose, researchers working in the Great Lakes region talk about where these contaminants come from, what they mean for aquatic habitats, and how they can be effectively managed. With its focus on making science accessible and providing practical management solutions, each edition gives you a unique look at an emerging ecological threat.
Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant kicked off the series with a conversation with Timothy Strathmann, an environmental engineer at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Later editions featured the work of Maria Sepulveda, a toxicologist at Purdue University, and John Kelly, a microbiologist at Loyola University Chicago. Each interview targets a different component of PPCP research—everything from what happens to pharmaceuticals when water is treated to what bacterial resistance could mean for other aquatic wildlife living in urban rivers. Readers also get an insider’s view of the complex, and sometimes tricky, process of conducting field studies and the potential implications of research on industries and regulations.
In upcoming editions, Ball State’s Melody Bernot will explain the surprising roles location and season play in pharmaceutical pollution, and Rebecca Klaper at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will talk about how research into the effects of these contaminants could lead to changes in how they are made, used, and treated.
All UpClose editions are available in print and online. For print copies, contact Susan White. For more information about PPCP pollution and what you can do to reduce its impacts, visit www.unwantedmeds.org.
Studies continue to show the presence and persistence of pharmaceuticals and other personal care products in waterways throughout the country. And improperly disposed-of medicines have been shown to have numerous detrimental effects on plants, animals, and environmental processes.
A forthcoming paper in Ecological Applications confirms the presence of pharmaceuticals in rivers throughout the U.S.
From Nature World News:
“As it turns out, the antihistamine diphenhydramine – used in treating allergic symptoms as well as motion sickness, insomnia and a cold – decreased a biofilm’s photosynthesis by 99 percent in addition to drops in respiration. And it didn’t stop there. The chemical compound actually caused a change in present bacterial species, including a reduction of a group that digests compounds produced by plants and algae.
Nor was it the only one tested to render similar results; in fact, all the pharmaceuticals involved in the study had a measurable and negative impact on biofilm respiration.”
Read the complete article at the link above, and find more information about the study at our UnwantedMeds.org site.
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.