Allison Neubauer and Kirsten Walker were at the University of Illinois Public Engagement Symposium last week to raise awareness of IISG outreach in Champaign-Urbana. Allison had this to say about the event.
Community medicine collection programs make it easy for people to rid their homes of unwanted pharmaceuticals, but they can be difficult to get off the ground. That’s where our Unwanted Meds team comes in. They have helped police departments across Illinois and Indiana establish collection programs and raise awareness of the importance of proper disposal.
From Rx for Action:
In today’s Community Spotlight feature, we look at West Lafayette Police Department’s Prescription/Over-the-Counter Drug Take Back (Rx/OTC) program. In 2010, Officer Janet Winslow started the wildly successful take-back program, one that has no doubt had a dramatic impact on the community and the environment.
Officer Winslow took a little time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us about the take-back program. And if the work she does here isn’t enough to show what an asset to the community she is, she has also just been named a YWCA Greater Lafayette Woman of Distinction, and will be honored at the “Salute to Women” banquet. Congratulations Officer Winslow!
1. The West Lafayette Police Department collection program started in March 2010. How did this program come about for your area, and why did you decide to take part?
2. What has been the community’s response? What are people saying about the medicine take-back opportunities and the program?
3. A lot of take-back programs have permanent collection boxes at police departments, but you plan, set-up, collect, and run the entire program (monthly events) yourself. What are some benefits of running a program in this manner?
My chief has asked me several times about getting the permanent box. My answer is always the same: I do not have time daily to check the box. I do not want liquids spilled in the box or broken bottles. Due to a lack of space I started separating the pills from the bottles. I do this as I am taking them back. I then recycle the bottles and the lids are delivered to an organization that makes park benches. I also like the interaction I have with the community during the take-backs.
A closer look at web tools and sites that boost research and empower Great Lakes communities to secure a healthy environment and economy.
With flu season waning and allergy season on its way, it’s important to keep in mind how to properly dispose of unused and unwanted medicine. IISG’s Unwanted Meds website explains the dangers of flushing or throwing away pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) and provides information, tools, and resources to help individuals, communities, and educators protect aquatic ecosystems.
The award-winning site contains information on collection programs and events for the Great Lakes region and beyond, as well as a list of commonly accepted and unaccepted items. Instructions for alternative disposal methods are also included for individuals without access to collection programs.
And visitors looking to prevent PPCP waste will find tips and resources for reducing the amount of unwanted medicine in their homes as well as avoiding personal care products with potentially harmful chemicals.
Local decision makers can take advantage of a free toolkit with instructions for how to safely and legally conduct their own collection program or event. And educators can get help incorporating pollution prevention into their teaching with resources like The Medicine Chest and The Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal (P2D2) Program.
In addition to tips and tools, Unwanted Meds is also host to the latest information on the science behind PPCPs. Its Rx for Action blog discusses leading research on everything from where pharmaceuticals have been detected to how these chemicals impact wildlife to new technologies for removal during wastewater treatment. Readers can also go behind the scenes with the scientists working to make sense of this complicated topic with the UpClose interview series.
It’s been two years since our first edition of UpClose, and we decided to celebrate the occasion by taking a behind-the-scenes look at the study that launched an era of scientific and public interest in pharmaceuticals and other emerging contaminants.
And to top it off, we’ve given the award-winning interview series a fresh new look.
Dana Kolpin, a research hydrologist and head of the U.S. Geological Survey Emerging Contaminants Project, played a key role in the first-ever nationwide survey of emerging contaminants. The study found pharmaceuticals, detergents, hormones, and other chemicals in streams across the country. When the results were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology in 2002, they sparked a of flurry of media and research attention. To this day, in fact, it is still the most cited study in the journal’s history.
In the eighth issue of UpClose, Kolpin looks back on the challenges of designing and conducting a national study—particularly one in search of everyday chemicals like caffeine—and the cutting-edge methods scientists created to analyze the results. He also talks about the gaps in understanding that remain after more than a decade of investigating these contaminants and gives a sneak-peak at USGS’s latest projects.
Find previous issues of UpClose and additional resources at unwantedmeds.org.
A few months back, IISG was contacted by Laurie Rasmus of the Macon County Environmental Management Department. She was aware of the issues surrounding improper disposal of pharmaceuticals and wanted to know how we could work together to provide Decatur residents with a convenient way to safely dispose of their unwanted medicines. IISG has found that partnerships like this work really well. So we wanted to start sharing the stories of communities with medicine take-back programs with people who may be thinking about staring a program in their area. Laurie took a few minutes of her time to answer some of our questions about Macon County’s need for prescription take-back boxes and why they are so important to the community.
How did you learn about safe medicine disposal, and how did this initiative come about?
Our department first learned about safe medicine disposal through the one-day take-back collections sponsored by the DEA.
Our office receives many inquiries from residents who want to learn how to dispose of unused and expired medicine in a safe manner that is not harmful to the environment. We informed these residents of the drop-off box operated by the Maroa Police Department. Most were pleased to learn about the Maroa drop-off site but many mentioned that a Decatur-based location would be more convenient. So, we inquired with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant about the possibilities for a collection site in Decatur and received encouraging information. We then approached Macon County Sheriff Thomas Schneider about a drop-off site at his office. Sheriff Schneider was enthusiastic about establishing a collection box in the lobby of the Macon County Law Enforcement Center.
Why do you think this is an important issue?
Safe, secure medicine disposal reduces the risks of accidental poisonings, drug misuse and pollution.
- We’re hiring an outreach associate to help enhance environmental education programming
- Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant announces three 2023 Knauss fellows
- Funding opportunity open for 2024-25 research projects
- National Sea Grant partnerships address water equity in marginalized neighborhoods
- Apply now for the 2024 Knauss Fellowship in Washington, D.C.
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