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Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant sponsors four new medicine collection programs

October 23rd, 2018 by

Improper disposal of unwanted medicine is both a public safety and environmental hazard. It can lead to poisonings from children and pets accidentally ingesting them, illegal use or theft, and drinking and surface water contamination. One of the best solutions to prevent improper disposal is to take unwanted medicine to a take-back drop box or collection event.

Since 2008, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) has helped communities organize permanent local medicine collection programs in 53 Great Lakes communities, including new collection box installations in the past year at police departments in four communities in three states: Gibson City and Farmer City in Illinois; Shiocton, Wisconsin; and Bloomfield, Indiana.

Two police officers stand next to a medicine collection box with IISG branding

Chief Adam Rosendahl (left) and Lieutenant Tony Row worked with IISG’s Sarah Zack to organize a take-back program and install a medicine collection box at the Gibson City Police Department. (Photo Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant / Sarah Zack)

Chief Adam Rosendahl from Gibson City installed a take-back box this past August. “One of the reasons I wanted to join the program was so that the medications did not end up in the wrong hands,” said Rosendahl. “We have had a couple different instances where children have taken medications from their parents’ or grandparents’ medicine chests.” The Gibson City Police Department wants to make sure that unwanted medications are disposed of properly.

Sarah Zack, IISG pollution prevention specialist, worked directly with police officers in Illinois and Indiana to organize the four new medicine collection programs. “I’m very proud of the legacy of the unwanted medicine take-back program started at IISG, and am thrilled that the program continues to grow,” said Zack. “The success of this program is dependent on having dedicated community partners, and collaborating with folks like Chief Rosendahl to help communities is one of the most valuable services IISG provides.”

IISG plans to install more collection boxes in the next year, continuing to prevent unwanted medicine from threatening public safety and entering the water supply through improper disposal. Interested communities can reach out to Sarah Zack at szack@illinois.edu or (217)300-4076 about obtaining a collection box or starting a medicine take-back program. For more information on proper disposal of unwanted medicine, visit unwantedmeds.org.


National Take Back Day

Keep unwanted meds out of the wrong hands and help protect the environment from improper medicine disposal by taking part in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 27, 2018. Go to TakeBackDay.com to find a medicine collection location near you.

West Lafayette take-back program still growing after five years

March 9th, 2015 by

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?

 
DARE America sent out a request for DARE officers to provide the community with a presentation on Rx/OTC medicines and do a take-back at the same time. I did a community presentation and actually had more people bring me Rx/OTC to be destroyed then that came to the presentation. Since that was successful I asked my Chief if I could try to do it monthly to see how the turnout would be. The “go greener” commission had also expressed and interest to the city government to attempt a take-back. 
2. What has been the community’s response? What are people saying about the medicine take-back opportunities and the program? 

 
I do the take-back monthly and every month I think it will be less. I literally have people standing in the police department lobby waiting for me to get my table and boxes set up. It has grown from one small box (~25 pounds) to 6-12 boxes, sometimes over 200 pounds every month. A lot of the people who use my program thank me for providing it to the community. 
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. Read more

Website of the week: The ins and outs of medicine disposal

February 18th, 2015 by

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. 

 
For the last information on PPCPs and other emerging contaminants, be sure to follow our pollution prevention team on Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, or Google+

U of I students get hands-on with pharmaceutical disposal

December 15th, 2014 by
University of Illinois students and faculty took a break from the end-of-semester chaos earlier this month to take advantage of a single-day medicine take-back. The student-led event was part of the Learning in Community (LINC) service course facilitated by IISG.  
  

“We spoke to so many different people to put on this event, from police officers to student organization leaders on campus to Jimmy John’s representatives,” said Reema Abi-Akar, a senior in urban planning. “We looked into case studies of past medicine take-back events, learned the ropes, and slowly absorbed all of the components we needed to replicate to put on a successful event.”

 
“Preparations for the event were challenging,” added Rosalee Celis, project manager and senior in biomedical engineering. “There were various marketing aspects that still had to be completed and communication between a 10-member team over Thanksgiving break was difficult. However, the efforts exerted during this crunch time made the results more satisfying.”
 
The event was a success, collecting 15 pounds of unused medicine for incineration in just six hours. 
 
This was just one of the outreach projects led by the LINC students this year. The class, which includes eight students and two undergraduate project managers, also gave an interactive presentation to an ESL class at Urbana High School to raise awareness of the risks of pharmaceutical pollution and the importance of proper disposal.
 
“Our group truly feels like we made a difference in the community and spread the word about proper medicine disposal,” Reema said.
 
And the course has been an eye-opening experience for the students as well. 
 
To be honest, I started this experience with little to no knowledge about proper medicine disposal,” Reema continued. “All the old medications in my parents’ medicine cabinet were simply collecting dust for years because we never knew how to get rid of them. Once I came into this LINC class and my group began researching the subject further, I became more and more interested in it—and I believe I’m speaking for my entire group as well.
 
“I can now enter the professional workforce in the pharmaceutical industry with the awareness of potential environmental damage due to pharmaceutical waste,” said Rosalee. 

UpClose celebrates two years and a new look

November 13th, 2014 by

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

Community spotlight: Macon County

October 24th, 2014 by
Permanent 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 communities across Illinois and Indiana purchase collection boxes and raise awareness of drop-off programs, including Illinois’ Macon County. 
 
From Rx for Action: 

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. 

In the news: Appeals court ruling opens door for manufacturer-funded medicine take-back programs

October 1st, 2014 by
A federal appeals court yesterday unanimously rejected a challenge by the pharmaceutical industry to a local ordinance that would require drug manufacturers to pay for the disposal of unwanted medicine in California’s Alameda County, the first law of its kind in the nation.
 
Approved by county supervisors in July 2012, the Alameda County Safe Medication Disposal Ordinance requires the makers of prescription drugs sold in the county to fund the collection, transportation, and disposal of unused or expired medications from residential sources. The requirements are similar to those underpinning successful medicine collection programs in Canada, France, and Australia.
 
Implementation of the law was stalled in Dec. 2012  by a lawsuit filed by industry trade associations. With support from drugmakers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the groups argued that the ordinance illegally shifts local costs to out-of-county producers and interferes with interstate commerce. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco disagreed, saying the ordinance treats local and non-local manufacturers equally and imposes no substantial burden on interstate trade.  

 

Pharmaceutical manufacturers could still appeal to the Supreme Court. If the decision stands, it could serve as a precedent for a similar measure in Washington. In the wake of the Alameda County ordinance, the King County Board of Health passed a law requiring manufacturers to install medicine drop-off boxes and provide pre-paid, pre-addressed mailers upon request. 
 
The county was sued in Nov. 2013, with drug manufacturers comparing the ordinance to requiring news publications to conduct paper recycling or food producers to collect spoiled food. That case was put on hold until the Alameda County lawsuit could be resolved. 

Take a minute to learn about pollution prevention

September 11th, 2014 by
Laura Kammin, our pollution prevention specialist, has some exciting news. Let’s let her tell you about it:

If you only had a minute, what would you say?
 
Just one minute to explain what pharmaceutical waste is and how people can help reduce it. That was the challenge posed by our new pollution prevention team members Erin Knowles and Adrienne Gulley. 
 
Challenge accepted! Here it is, the first installment of the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Pollution Prevention Minute.

 

We know it’s a long name. But don’t worry, the content isn’t. They’re one—ok, maybe sometimes closer to two—minute videos that give easy-to-understand answers to some of the more complicated questions surrounding the use, storage, and disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products.
 
Why videos? We are always getting asked questions like “what happens to the medicine that gets collected?” and “what are microbeads?” We think these new videos are a fun way to share the answers.
 
And be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and watch for the next episode of IISG’s Pollution Prevention Minute.  

New DEA rule makes it easier than ever to safely dispose of unwanted meds

September 8th, 2014 by
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has just announced new regulations for the disposal of controlled substances that make it possible for retail pharmacies to collect pharmaceuticals, including controlled substances. The long-awaited policy change, which goes into effect Oct. 9, means there could soon be many more locations—and more convenient ones at that—for you to dispose of your unwanted medicines. 
 
Permanent and single-day collection programs have been a reality in many communities across the country for years. But these programs were led by city, county, and state police departments, the only groups allowed to accept controlled substances from those looking to properly dispose of the unused medicines. This limited the number of available programs and often made it difficult for the public to properly dispose of their pharmaceuticals conveniently.
 
Law enforcement agencies will continue to manage take-back programs under the new regulations. But they can now be joined by manufacturers, distributors, reverse distributors, and retail pharmacies.
 
The new law does not create new collection programs, and it doesn’t require others to either. The amendment to the Controlled Substances Act simply makes room for groups outside law enforcement to voluntarily establish mail-back programs or maintain collection boxes. Retail pharmacies also have the option of administering collection programs at long-term care facilities.
 
We are very happy that the regulations are finally out. But the work around here will continue much as it has for the last seven years. Our pollution prevention team will continue to educate the public on the proper use, storage, and disposal of PPCPs. And they are still working closely with communities to set up legal, sustainable take-back programs.  
 
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