Thursday, June 23, 2011

Prescription Drug Disposal Coming to Teutopolis

Teutopolis, Ill. —A few years ago, a teacher from Pontiac, IL, Paul Ritter, was asked by his wife what to do with old medicines in their medicine cabinet. Since he didn't know, he asked his high school students to research the issue. The students found that there was no program for disposing of prescription drugs or medicines and so began Mr. Ritter's quest to start such a program.

The program is called P2D2, which stands for Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal. It was started in Illinois in 2007-2008 and has now spread to 15 states with the help of the Boy Scouts.

For many years, people have been told not to throw away old medicines but to flush them down the toilet. However, these drugs are getting into the waterways causing such problems as drug resistance, hormone and fertility problems, as well as an increase in cancer.

Scientists with the USGS (United States Geological Society) tested over 130 rivers, streams, and other waterways in the U.S. and found the following pharmaceuticals in over 80 percent of those tested: antibiotics, anti-depressants, birth control pills, seizure medication, cancer treatments, pain killers, tranquilizers, and cholesterol-lowering compounds. In addition to this, 72 percent of drug related incidents come from medicines in the medicine cabinet.

Recently, the Effingham County 4-H Youth Ambassadors got involved in the P2D2 project to keep drugs and medicines out of our local waterways and to make sure they're disposed of properly.

Drop-off boxes are being set up locally in secure locations for residents to safely dispose of drugs, which include all non-controlled, non-hazardous medications, vitamins/supplements, homeopathic remedies, creams, oils, ointments, suppositories, pet medications, etc. Names and addresses on prescription medication can be scratched off with a black marker but the name of the substance needs to remain on the prescription.

The drop-off boxes are currently being set up in six locations in Effingham County. These locations are: the Teutopolis Village Hall in Teutopolis; the Effingham County Sheriff's Department, the Illinois State Police, and Andes Health Mart, all in Effingham; and the Altamont City Police Department and Altamont Pharmacy in Altamont.

The drop-off boxes at the pharmacies and the Teutopolis Village Hall should be used for prescription medications and non-controlled, non-hazardous medicines only. In addition to prescription medications, controlled substances (illegal drugs) may be dropped off anonymously in the drop-off boxes located at the Sheriff's Department, the IL State Police or the Altamont City Police. Call ahead of time before dropping off controlled substances so as not to be caught with them in your car, and make sure to mention the P2D2 program. There is a "Don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding these drop-offs. If someone wants the illegal substance picked up at their house, call Chief Deputy John Loy at the Effingham County Sheriff's Department for a one-time only pick-up with no questions asked.

The drop-off boxes will be emptied on a regular basis. Once the drugs are picked up, they are sent to a company where they are incinerated at a high temperature (1800F). The resulting high temperatures heat water for steam which is sold for heat and processing. It is not recommended that medicines or pills be burned along with trash by individuals since the resulting temperatures are not high enough to burn pills and these pills can end up in runoff or buried with the ashes, etc.

Illinois House Bill 2056 was passed (115-0) on May 31, 2011 stating that any fines drug offenders have to pay will go to the P2D2 program to keep taxpayers from having to pay for this program.

The Effingham County 4-H Youth Ambassadors have been instrumental in putting this program together for the local community. Without their effort, enthusiasm, and energy this program might still be only a dream for this area. They are to be commended along with the community businesses and individuals that have helped in this effort: the Effingham County Sheriff's Department and the Illinois State Police have been in charge of coordinating disposal drop-off sites as well as overall program coordination; the Sunrise Rotary purchased boxes for the drop-off locations; the Post Office donated old, unused mailboxes to be used as drop-off boxes; Barlow Lock and Security donated locks for the boxes; Dan Hecht Chevrolet painted the drop-off boxes; H and M Graphics and Lidy Graphics donated decals for the boxes; Paul Ritter and Bill Elving assisted with getting the program up and running in Effingham; those who donated space for the P2D2 boxes; and the University of IL Extension who sponsored the 4-H Youth Ambassadors.

The drop-off box at the Teutopolis Village Hall will be accessible during the Village Hall's office hours.

Copyright 2011 Teutopolis Press-Dieterich Gazette. Some rights reserved

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

‘Hometown Heroes’ honored

Richard Billington, a resident of ASTA Care Center, listens as awards were given to 28 “Hometown Heroes” during a reception Wednesday. Eighteen agencies were honored at the reception, which was held in conjunction with National Nursing Home Week.
By Peg Reynolds
Pontiac Daily Leader
Posted May 12, 2011 @ 09:07 AM

Pontiac, Ill. —
ASTA Care Center of Pontiac recognized 18 “Hometown Heroes” at a 2 p.m. reception Wednesday at the nursing home.
Activity Director Kathy Finkenbinder was the organizer of the event that honored 18 Pontiac, Livingston County and state officials and volunteers.
Most organizations were represented by at least one person. They were presented with a certificate and a goodie bag filled by nursing home residents. Inside the bag was a thank-you card, an American flag pin, and “a bunch of lifesavers, because they are lifesavers in this community,” said Finkenbinder.
“It’s our way of giving back to the community and letting them know we are part of the community,” she said. Honorees sat on one side of the main dining room as residents and staff filled the other side. Finkenbinder shared reasons why each agency was being honored and what they did to assist the residents and staff at the nursing home.
ASTA Care Center Administrator Lorrie Stogsdill and Social Service Director Tisha Harty handed out certificates and gifts as Finkenbinder talked of each organization’s service to the nursing home and the community.
Those honored were:
• Emergency Disaster and Service Agency “for their quick, informative manner in which the response comes from the agency for emergencies and disasters,” said Finkenbinder. Chuck Shopp accepted the award.
• Pontiac Street and Alley Department “for getting our staff to work during the snow storm and keeping the streets open,” she said. Chris Brock accepted the award.
• St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry “for keeping the community fed and helping those in need,” she said. Evelyn Ribordy and Jane Kuerth accepted the award.
• Alfa Troop 2nd 106 Calvary Unit National Guard for “serving our country and helping out in disasters,” said Finkenbinder.
• WJEZ, Todd Lowery and Kent Casson, for “always keeping the community informed of weather alerts,” she said.
• Livingston County Coroner Michael P. Burke was honor for things he does “without being aware of what he does,” said Finkenbinder. “He reaches out to the younger generation, stressing the importance of safe driving and the use of common sense — such as promoting that the youth not take on habits that would cause a terrible outcome.”
• Livingston County Sheriff Marty Meredith was honored for his service, which was accepted by Chief Deputy Marvin R. Rutledge and Sgt. Earl Dutko. The department was honored “for combating the drugs in this area are commended. The continuing education of his officers will only enhance their job performance.”
• Betty Ester, a promoter of the city of Pontiac, was recognized for “placing Pontiac on the official tourism map,” said Finkenbinder. “People from all over the world come to visit our town. For that we are very grateful. Those groups of tourism helps to promote business, families moving her and our economy.”
• Del Estes Education Center honor was accepted by his widow, Betty and their son, Dave Estes. “Del had a dream, a goal and a strong drive to get the museum in place,” she said.
• Livingston County Food Pantry was recognized and volunteers Joan Bevill, Gwen Voytas, Grace Weaver, Betty Decker, Heather Robertson, Pastor Carolyn Bavaro and Edna Mae Rutherford.
• Duffy Ambulance Service award was accepted by Joe Stock, Brenda Matuszewski, Tina Diemer and Andrew Krominga. However, Matuszewski and Diemer had to leave abruptly when an emergency call came in during the awards.
• Pontiac Police Department was honored “for all of your efforts, keeping us safe and the continued education to both the officers and the community,” said Finkenbinder.
• Pontiac Fire Department for “always meeting the needs, for the 911 calls, fires, accidents and disasters, and for putting yourself at risk to help others,” she said. The award was accepted by Officers Jim Woolford and Jim Morgan.
• Paul Ritter, Pontiac Township High School ecology and science teacher, was honored for his “outstanding efforts educating the students, community and the all-out efforts for the P2D2 program,” she said.
• Danny Jarrett was in Springfield and could not be present. Accepting the honor on his behalf was his wife, Linda Jarrett. He is the president of the AFSCME Local 494 and was honored “for his continued support for the employees of the prison, the unselfish hours of work for the union and helping with the fight to keep the Pontiac Prison open,” said Finkenbinder.
• Scott McCoy was not present, but was honored ‘for his outstanding efforts, outcome and endless time that he spent as mayor during the flood.”
• State Police District 6 was not present, but was recognized for “keeping us safe and protecting and guiding us,” she said.
“They are like the Three Musketeers — when you need help you call on a Three Musketeer to come to your side,” Finkenbinder said of the 18 agencies. “We thank them whole-heartedly for all their efforts and dedication. We are a strong community because of those folks.

Barickman praises students’ support

Joy Butler
State Rep. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, left, spoke with students at Pontiac Township High School about the upcoming Illinois Senate Environmental Committee meeting this week on House Bill 2056, which PTHS students worked to have passed earlier this year. With Barickman are students Joshua Faust and Lanora McCune, who worked on the legislation and will be working on the Senate passage.

By Sheila Shelton
Pontiac Daily Leader
Posted May 10, 2011 @ 09:50 AM

Pontiac, Ill. —
State Rep. Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, met with some students at Pontiac Township High School Monday morning to discuss the help they provided in getting a bill passed recently in the Illinois House.
It was House Bill 2056 that expands the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program (P2D2) in Illinois.
Some of the same students who testified earlier this year before the House Environmental Committee will be returning this Wednesday to testify before the Senate Environmental Committee that is now considering the House Bill.
“I appreciate what you students have done. You came to Springfield and brought this issue to us,” Barickman told the students. “You guys have brought this to the forefront. Thanks for all you have done and are continuing to do. You guys are well on your way to becoming active, caring citizens.”
“You guys have reached out to your legislators,” said PTHS ecology and science teacher Paul Ritter. “There are people that will never understand what all you have done to make a change in the world.”
House Bill 2056 which passed the House by a 110-0 vote April 7 after its introduction in February was co-sponsored by Barickman. This bill would assess a $20 fee on those convicted of drug-related offenses, which would be used to fund disposal of prescription drugs.
P2D2 provides for safe disposal of antibiotics, antidepressants, birth control pills, seizure medications, pain killers, tranquilizers and cholesterol lowering medications.
P2D2 was originally a program developed by Ritter and his PTHS students to be used in Livingston County. It has since then been utilized and adopted by schools all over Illinois and in various states throughout the United States. The program has won national acclaim and awards as means of ensuring preventing medications from ever getting back into the drinking water supply. There are several locations around the area where disposals of prescription drugs no longer needed can be made.
Student Josh Faust said that students are now working on starting the P2D2 program in Hawaii by contacting police officers and health departments to get the ball rolling.
“You students have participated in the largest grass roots program in our lifetimes,” said Ritter. “You guys are changing your world and standing up for the things you believe in. We once heard in December 2007 this couldn’t be done and now look at what you have done.”
“You will see this go through the Senate committee and then it pass to the full Senate and goes on to the governor for his signature,” said Barickman.

2011 SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Environmental Excellence Awards Rewards Kids Making a Difference

--Parks Grant $80,000 to Support Youth-Driven Eco-Projects from New York to Nebraska--
By: PR Newswire
May. 13, 2011 10:00 AM

ORLANDO, Fla., May 13, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- From coordinating coast-to-coast bake sales to help endangered sea turtles to building a floating classroom, kids and educators across the U.S. are designing creative ways to conserve the world we share. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment awarded eight youth-driven environmental groups with a SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Environmental Excellence Award during a special awards ceremony at SeaWorld Orlando April 29. Each winning group received $10,000 to fund their efforts. Since 1993 the company has awarded $1.8 million to nearly 160 individuals, youth groups and schools.
The 2011 award recipients include:
Cooking Up Ways to Help Endangered Sea Turtles - North Carolina
Casey Sokolovic is using her baking skills to help threatened and endangered sea turtles. Through her awareness program, "Help Them L.A.S.T. - Love a Sea Turtle," she bakes and sells turtle-shaped sugar cookies and lemonade to raise money in support of turtle conservation efforts. She created the "Great Bake for Oceans' Sake," a coast-to-coast bake sale that encourages people to bake and donate the proceeds to an ocean conservation organization.
Amphibians in Crisis - Nebraska
There are close to 6,000 known species of amphibians, almost 2,000 are threatened with extinction. To help researchers better understand the crisis, the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb. created the Amphibian Conservation Education Project. Little was known about amphibian populations in Nebraska. The program gets Omaha-area students involved in conducting statewide amphibian surveys that provide information to state researchers.
Fighting the "Purple Plaque" - Nebraska
Purple Loosestrife, an invasive plant, is a constant threat to the wetlands around the tiny town of Niobrara, Neb. To combat this "purple plaque," Niobrara High School biology students breed armies of Galerucella beetles, which are placed in areas to feed on Purple Loosestrife. The students' work has resulted in increased vegetation diversity in wetlands that were once infested.
A Floating Classroom - Virginia
The Elizabeth River is one of the most polluted rivers that terminate in the Chesapeake Bay. The Learning Barge is a "green" vessel created by the University of Virginia School (UVA) of Architecture and The Elizabeth River Project to inform, inspire and engage riders and participants to help make the river safe for swimming and fishing by 2020. The barge's features include a floating wetland nursery, power systems run by sun and wind, compost toilets, hand-washing stations that use rain water, a seining pool to enclose fish for study, oyster floats, habitat cubes, an underwater camera and enclosed classroom. Since its creation in 2006, more than 10,000 people have been aboard learning what they can do to support the river's restoration.
Disposing Pills, Disposing Problems - Michigan
Pontiac Township High School students are leading the charge to educate the public on the environmental dangers that improperly disposed prescription and non-prescription pills and drugs have on a community's water supply. Through their Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program (P2D2), the students not only educate the community but also provide alternative disposal methods, ranging from how to properly throw away controlled substances to how to coordinate drop-off locations. The program has expanded to more than half of the 102 counties in Illinois. The program's sponsor, Pontiac Township High School teacher Paul Ritter, was named as an Outstanding Environmental Educator by the National Science Teachers Association.
Saving the Creek - West Virginia
The Friends of Deckers Creek (FODC) Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is an award-winning, self-driven youth group whose mission is to increase youth participation in helping clean up decades of environmental degradation in Deckers Creek in north central West Virginia. Their efforts include trash cleanups, educational outreach programs and fundraising. Over the past four years, YAB has worked diligently to secure more than $20,000 in funding for their projects.
Keeping Watch Upstream - New York State
The Environmental Study Team (EST) encourages and assists youth people in upstate New York to be active in the monitoring and improvement of their local environment. The students help assess and document the physical, chemical, and biological properties of freshwater streams, particularly along the Schoharie Creek and Mohawk River, and present their findings to the public and local government. The team also has discovered and reported previously unknown sources of pollution.
Green and Growing - Pennsylvania
Inspired by their new LEED-certified building, Green Valley Elementary School faculty and students created the "Green and Growing" program. The program includes green challenges to encourage students and their families to recycle and conserve water and energy at home, the creation of an outside green zone complete with trees, a wetland meadow and grasslands, and an outdoor classroom with amphitheater-style seating overlooking a nature trail.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, a portfolio company of The Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX), operates 10 parks across the U.S. including SeaWorld parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio; Busch Gardens parks in Tampa, Fla. and Williamsburg, Va.; Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando; Sesame Place near Philadelphia, Pa.; and water parks Adventure Island in Tampa and Water Country USA in Williamsburg. The 10 parks play host to 23 million guests each year and employ 20,000 people nationwide.
A global leader in animal care and conservation, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment cares for more than 60,000 animals including 200 endangered or threatened species. This commitment to animals benefits animals around the world. The company has rescued more than 18,000 orphaned, injured or ill animals over the past four decades and contributed more than $50 million to conservation, wildlife rescue and environmental stewardship programs worldwide. The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund -- a non-profit, 501(c)3 charitable foundation -- has granted more than $7 million to support hundreds of projects around the world. For more information, visit
SOURCE SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

PTHS students hope for P2D2 program expansion

By: Kent Casson | 2 weeks ago
St. Rep. Jason Barickman talks with PTHS teacher Paul Ritter on Monday (photo by: Kent Casson/WJBC).
State Representative Jason Barickman is joining Pontiac Township High School students in urging the senate passage of a house bill, which expands the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program in Illinois.
On Wednesday, the senate will consider House Bill 2056, which would assess a $20 fee on those convicted on drug offenses. The money would be used to fund disposal of prescription drugs.
PTHS student Amber Brunskill made a video about the P2D2 Program, which originated in Pontiac.
“We went down to the Illinois House and it really got be interested. I have been involved in P2D2 across the state with Mr. (Paul) Ritter,” said Brunskill.
Student Beth Guelde has worked with P2D2 for the past few years.
“Last year, we introduced it to the Caterpillar Plant, which then introduced the program into some new states. I have seen it grow pretty far. This year, we are introducing P2D2 in Hawaii and Alaska too,” said Guelde.
Barickman addressed some PTHS students on Monday morning, saying he is impressed with their efforts to help protect the environment. Barickman says he is proud to do his part of help expand the worthy program throughout the state.

National Take Back day will accept your old prescription meds

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

By Lindsay Vaughn

When not disposed of properly, old prescription medications can leach into the environment or be found and abused.
The Bureau/Putnam County Community Partners Against Substance Abuse and local law enforcement agencies are taking a proactive approach to preventing these problems by participating in National Take Back Day.
Citizens can bring unused, unwanted or expired prescription drugs to the Princeton Police Department for the collection event 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.
The national program is a U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration initiative. The Princeton Police Department is hosting the local event for CPASA.
“It’s kind of a derivative of our P2D2 program, but the DEA is on board now and that really helps a lot,” said Princeton’s Deputy Chief Allan Beaber.
P2D2 — a prescription drug disposal program — has given Bureau and Putnam county residents a safe place to get rid of unwanted prescription meds since last summer. Through a partnership with CPASA, the Princeton Police Department, Spring Valley Police Department, Bureau County Sheriff’s Department and Putnam County Sheriff’s Office have provided secure drop-off boxes in their stations.
After Saturday’s event, the DEA will collect and dispose of any drugs Princeton police collect.
“This is one day when anybody and everybody can bring their drugs into the police department. It will be secured and stored, and a day later the DEA will come and transport it and incinerate it for us. There’s no cost to the police department or anybody,” said Beaber. Another one-day event will be held this fall, Beaber added.
About two weeks ago, the DEA picked up more than 1,300 pounds of pills that the Princeton Police Department had already collected.
“We had one room back here that was just filled with boxes and bags of unused and outdated prescription drugs. 1,300 pounds. Look how much of that is not in our water system, not in our land, and there won’t be the opportunity for a person to take those and abuse them,” said Beaber.
According to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 7 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, and every day, about 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time, according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America.
A majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.
On the first-ever National Take Back Day last fall, law enforcement agencies throughout the country took in more than 121 tons of pills.
At that time, CPASA was still getting local agencies started with the ongoing P2D2 program and couldn’t participate in the national event, but CPASA coordinator Dawn Conerton is excited to take part now.
“We’re still going to be doing the ongoing program throughout Bureau and Putnam counties, but this is a program where we can support the DEA and the DEA supports us,” Conerton said.

Students Spur Legislation To Keep Drugs Out Of Waterways

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) – Whether you use prescription drugs properly or abuse them, a group of students is emphasizing that landfills and waterways are no place for the unused pills.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Dave Dahl reports, Paul Ritter, a science teacher at Pontiac High School downstate, told a state House committee that his students originally developed the P2D2 Program. P2D2 is short for “Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal.”
LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Dave Dahl reports

“These are students who have put their hard work and effort and the blood, sweat and tears,” Ritter said. “You’ll also notice there’s a piece in there called the medicine chest. The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant thought so much of these kids that they took their curriculum and presented it, and published it.”
Students from Antioch Community High School were also involved in creating the program.
HB 2506 would allow law enforcement personnel to collect prescription drugs from residential sources and burn them. It has already passed out of a state House Environmental Affairs Committee and is now going before the full state House.
It is meant as an alternative to flushing unused prescription drugs down the toilet, thus contaminating waterways and marine life.

Pontiac Students Showcase Growth of P2D2 Program

PEORIA - When the P2D2 prescription pill and drug disposal program started four years ago at Pontiac High School, few people could have foreseen its incredible growth into a national movement.

"We have Alaska. Hawaii is joining in and we have a couple other states, but it's grown pretty fast," says Pontiac senior Bethany Guelde. "It's pretty exciting."

As part of Peoria's Clean Water Celebration, students are continuing to help the growth of the P2D2 program by educating area students about the dangers of prescription medicine and our drinking water.

"Mostly just to get the word out so the kids can start their own program, if they like," says Pontiac senior Amber Brunskill. "Maybe make good decisions themselves."

The unique part of P2D2 is that the students are the ones who continually take the lead to move the program forward. Some students are even looking to take that sense of responsibility beyond high school.

"I've already talked to the college I'm going to in Michigan. I'm going to start a program up there because it has not yet been introduced into the community," Guelde says.

Students say the program is essential because even though two-thirds of the world lacks clean drinking water, we often take it for granted.

"It's just not something that goes through most people's minds, so when we say this is a huge deal and something needs to be done about it, most people are shocked by that," says Pontiac sophomore Charles Spencer.

But the dedication of these motivated students all but guarantees P2D2's success for years to come.

"I've learned so much and I love the program that I wish I wasn't a senior now and could keep going," says Brunskill.

In four years, P2D2 has expanded into 16 states, disposing over 135,000 pounds of medication and other drugs.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ritter receives National Science Teachers Association award

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning, announced the winners of the 2011 NSTA Teacher Awards Program, which honors K-12 teachers, principals, professors and other science education professionals for their outstanding work and achievement in science education. The awards were presented at a special banquet and ceremony on March 11 at NSTA’s 59th National Conference on Science Education in San Francisco.

Recipient of the SeaWorld/Busch Gardens and National Science Teachers Association Outstanding Environmental Educator of the Year Award was former Mendota resident Paul Ritter, currently a science teacher at Pontiac Township High School in Pontiac. A 1988 graduate of Mendota High School, Ritter is also director of the National Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program (P2D2), which he started three years ago, and is president-elect of the Illinois Science Teachers Association.

During the presentation, Ritter was described as a teacher who always puts his students first and for whom “teaching is his life, not just a job. His passion for education and the environment goes well beyond the classroom, touching every aspect of his life, as well as his students.”

Following high school, Ritter earned a B.S. in zoology and later an M.S. in secondary science education from Eastern Illinois University. After undergraduate college, he worked briefly as a wildlife interpreter for the Illinois Department of Conservation. But he felt a strong desire to make a difference in people’s lives and decided to enter the field of education. Eleanor Ritter, Paul’s grandmother, who taught for over 50 years as a regular and a substitute educator, was one of his major sources of inspiration.

With the help of many friends and family, Ritter returned to school to obtain additional course work that would allow him to follow his dream. In the fall of 1994, he was hired as a biology and earth science teacher at East Lake High School in Clearwater, Fla. Although Florida was a wonderful steppingstone for Ritter and his wife, Jodee, they decided to move back to Illinois.

After a long search, he was hired at Effingham High School, however, the move back to Illinois required Ritter to go back to school again to meet the science requirements of the Illinois State Board of Education. After two years at Effingham, the Ritters and their daughters, Baylee and Taylor, moved to Pontiac, where Paul became a valued instructor at Pontiac Township High School.

Ritter has received many awards and honors for his interdisciplinary projects including 11 major awards from three different governors of the State of Illinois. In addition to the P2D2 program (, some of his other noteworthy projects include the Pontiac Township High School Crayon Recycling Program, the PTHS Cell Phone Recycling Program, the Pontiac Billboard Project, the PTHS Ecology Class “Adopt A Highway” Project, and the PTHS Ecology Student Weather Radio Program and the Storm Sewer Stenciling Program, a community project between Pontiac Township High School students and Pontiac Grade School students, and the PTHS Bio-diesel Program.

Some of Ritter’s other honors include 2007-08 Illinois State Board of Education Teacher of the Year - runner-up; 2009–10 NSDAR Illinois Conservation Award – winner; 2009-10 NSDAR

National Conservation Award - runner-up; and the 2009-10 Illinois Conservation Teacher of the Year.

Ritter, who attended the award ceremony in San Francisco with his wife and children, said it was an extraordinary event but he pointed out that the award itself was a reflection of so many people and groups who have helped him with his achievements. “It’s a great honor and I’m humbled,” he said. “I’m so thankful I get to do what I do every day. I love my job.”

Ritter also credited his hometown for much of his success. “It goes back to my roots, where hard work and effort is the norm,” he said. “The lessons I learned growing up in Mendota – none of this would have been possible if not for my upbringing and the community that surrounded me.”

About NSTA The Arlington, Va.-based National Science Teachers Association (NSTA),, is the largest professional organization in the world promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all. NSTA's current membership includes approximately 60,000 science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, business and industry representatives, and others involved in science education.

Graham: City, water company start drug disposal program

I am pleased to announce that the city of O'Fallon and Illinois American Water have partnered to implement a pharmaceutical disposal program in O'Fallon. The unveiling of the new program will be held on Wednesday, April 6, at 2 p.m., at the public safety facility, 285 N. Seven Hills Road.

Residents are encouraged to drop off their unwanted medications so they can be incinerated, which is the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's recommended approach for pharmaceutical disposal. Flushing medications down the toilet or the drain as well as throwing them in the trash are discouraged.

This program is a great opportunity for O'Fallon residents to stop at the police department and securely drop off any unused or expired medications. It's important for us to keep these items out of our landfills and water supplies.

The IEPA has done sampling of several public water supplies across the state for a variety of pharmaceuticals. While there currently is no evidence of any imminent human health threat concern, there is a growing concern about the impact on aquatic life and habitat. In addition, with the aging of the large baby boom generation and overall increase in the use of medications, it is important to keep these medications out of our water supplies.

The secure drop box, donated by Illinois American Water, is located inside the main door of the police department and is easy to access. Simply drop your medications in the box, and then law enforcement personnel will safely dispose of them by incineration. There is no charge to participate in the program.

The O'Fallon pharmaceutical disposal program is the 19th program supported through Illinois American Water's initiatives.

"Our goal is to establish a greatly expanded network of secure pharmaceutical collection centers throughout the state," said Grant Evitts, operations manager for Illinois American Water's Interurban District.

The pharmaceutical disposal programs were created through a model developed by Pontiac High School Township students and their teacher, Paul Ritter. The program, P2D2, has been recognized by Gov. Pat Quinn, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Natural Resources as a model for all pharmaceutical disposal programs.

In addition, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency supported efforts nationally with the first-ever National Take Back Day in September 2010. Through all of these efforts, thousands of pounds of unwanted medications have been properly disposed. To learn more, please visit

Accepted items include prescription pills and liquids (liquids must be in leak-proof containers); over-the-counter medications; and illegal substances.

Items that will not be accepted include mercury thermometers; needles/sharps; and biomedical waste (items containing blood, tissue or body fluid).

For more information about the program, call the O'Fallon Police Department at 618-624-4545.

The health and safety of our residents and their loved ones is very important to me, and by working together we can help to keep our water supplies free of hazardous and unnecessary chemicals. The strong working relationship between City Hall and the residents we serve is yet another example of why O'Fallon is such a great community in which to live.

Gary L. Graham is mayor of O'Fallon.Â

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Illinois American Water Partners with City of O’Fallon and O’Fallon Police Department to Implement Pharmaceutical Disposal Program

Belleville, Ill. (March 22, 2011) – Illinois American Water has partnered with the City of O’Fallon and the O’Fallon Police Department to implement a pharmaceutical disposal program in O’Fallon.  Illinois American Water donated the pharmaceutical drop box, which will be installed with a kick off event at the O’Fallon Police Department, located at 285 North Seven Hills Road in O’Fallon on Thursday, April 6, 2010, at 2:00 PM.
Residents are encouraged to drop off their unwanted meds so they can be incinerated, which is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended approach for pharmaceutical disposal.  Flushing medications down the toilet or the drain as well as throwing them in the trash are discouraged.
“This program is a great opportunity for O’Fallon residents to stop by the Police Department and securely drop off any unused or expired medications,” said O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham.  “It’s important for us to keep these items out of our landfills and water supplies.”
The O’Fallon pharmaceutical disposal program is the 19th program supported through Illinois American Water’s initiatives.  “Our goal is to establish a greatly expanded network of secure pharmaceutical collection centers throughout the state,” said Grant Evitts, operations manager for Illinois American Water’s Interurban District.
Through partnership and collaboration with local pharmacies, police departments and government officials, Illinois American Water has implemented and supported pharmaceutical disposal programs across the state including three drop-off locations in Peoria as well as sites in Alton, Bartonville, Belleville, Caseyville, Champaign, Chillicothe, Collinsville, Fairmont, Maryville, Pekin, Peoria Heights, Pontiac, Streator, Urbana and Waterloo.
- MORE -
The pharmaceutical disposal programs were created through a model developed by Pontiac High School Township students and their teacher Paul Ritter.  The program, P2D2, has been recognized by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Natural Resources as a model for all pharmaceutical disposal programs.  In addition, the Drug Enforcement Agency supported efforts nationally with the first-ever National Take Back Day in September of 2010.  Through all of these efforts, thousands of pounds of unwanted medications have been properly disposed.  To learn more, please visit
About Illinois American Water
Illinois American Water, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to more than 1.2 million people. American Water also operates a customer service center in Alton and a quality control and research laboratory in Belleville.  
Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest investor-owned U.S. water and wastewater utility company.  With headquarters in Voorhees, N.J., the company employs more than 7,000 dedicated professionals who provide drinking water, wastewater and other related services to approximately
15 million people in more than 30 states, as well as parts of Canada. More information can be found by visiting
In 2011, American Water is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a yearlong campaign to promote water efficiency and the importance of protecting water from source to tap. To learn more, visit

Team 10 Coalition and Illinois American Water Partner to Implement Pharmaceutical Disposal Program

(March 4, 2011) – Team 10 Coalition, an organization committed to drug-free, healthy living, has announced the implementation of four new pharmaceutical disposal programs in Caseyville, Collinsville, Fairmont City and Maryville.  The new programs are a product of teamwork between Team 10 Coalition, Illinois State Police, local law enforcement and Illinois American Water.  A kickoff event will be held at the Caseyville Village Hall located at 909 South Main Street in Caseyville, on Tuesday, March 15, 2011, at 1:00 PM.
The pharmaceutical disposal programs, which will be located at Village Hall in Caseyville, and police departments in Collinsville, Fairmont City and Maryville, feature a secure disposal box for easy disposal of unwanted medications.  Through collaboration with the local police chiefs in all four communities, medications collected will be properly disposed through incineration, preventing the flushing of medications into the water supply and helping to prevent misuse and abuse of medications.  
The group hopes their work will help protect water resources and keep unwanted drugs out of children's hands.  Caseyville Police Chief J.D. Roth said, “By promoting local disposal programs and practicing proper disposal of pharmaceuticals we are able to protect two very valuable resources, our children and our water.”  He continued, “I commend this group for the efforts they are putting forth to make this happen.”
The disposal box, donated by Illinois American Water, will be installed this month and administered by the local police departments.  “This program gives residents an alternative to flushing their medications, which can be harmful to our water sources,” said Karla Olson Teasley, president of Illinois American Water.  “By properly disposing of unwanted medications we are helping to protect our water supply for future generations.”
Team 10 Coalition Chairman, Gary Peccola, agrees.  Stating, "Proper disposal of pharmaceuticals enables our communities to improve our environment and quality of life. This is what Team 10 strives to achieve through all of our programs.”
The pharmaceutical disposal programs were created through a model developed by Pontiac High School Township students and their teacher Paul Ritter.  The program, P2D2, has been recognized by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Natural Resources as a model for all pharmaceutical disposal programs.  In addition, the Drug Enforcement Agency supported efforts nationally with the first-ever National Take Back Day in September of 2010.  Through all of these efforts, thousands of pounds of unwanted medications have been properly disposed.  To learn more, please visit
About Illinois American Water
Illinois American Water, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Water (NYSE: AWK), is the largest investor-owned water utility in the state, providing high-quality and reliable water and/or wastewater services to more than 1.2 million people. American Water also operates a customer service center in Alton and a quality control and research laboratory in Belleville.  
Founded in 1886, American Water is the largest investor-owned U.S. water and wastewater utility company.  With headquarters in Voorhees, N.J., the company employs more than 7,000 dedicated professionals who provide drinking water, wastewater and other related services to approximately
15 million people in more than 30 states, as well as parts of Canada. More information can be found by visiting
In 2011, American Water is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a yearlong campaign to promote water efficiency and the importance of protecting water from source to tap. To learn more, visit

Effingham, Illinois 4h group put in Effingham p2d2

March 22, 2011
Cracking down on drug abuse
Drop boxes to be placed in several locations for prescription drug disposal
Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — With prescription drug abuse becoming an increasingly lethal issue in Effingham County, several organizations are banding together in an effort to get these potentially deadly drugs off the street.

    Secure drop boxes will be placed in several locations for drug disposal within the next month as part of the P2D2 program. Effingham County Chief Deputy John Loy said Monday that boxes will be placed on the first floor of both the Effingham County Office Building and Effingham County Government Center, the Illinois State Police District 12 headquarters in Effingham, Altamont Municipal Building and Altamont Pharmacy.

    Loy said the boxes can be put anywhere with either human or video surveillance.

    “We’re still looking for locations to put them,” he said. “The drugs will be picked up by bonded couriers and then destroyed.”

    Coroner Leigh Hammer said the program will hopefully lessen the incidence of prescription drug abuse cases that, sadly, turn into fatalities.

    “It’s a big project,” said Hammer, who added that drugs can also be dropped off at the Effingham County Health Department.

    Hammer said there have been 12 to 15 deaths in the county resulting from prescription drug abuse in the past three years. Prescription drug abuse became more widely known in the area after a combination of aggressive enforcement and legislative action dramatically reduced methamphetamine abuse in rural Illinois.

    The program is being facilitated by the Effingham County Youth Ambassador program, an outgrowth of the University of Illinois Extension 4-H program. Several ambassadors appeared at Monday’s County Board meeting.

    “4-H isn’t just about the animals,” said St. Anthony High School student Jesse Haarmann.

    Other ambassadors appearing at Monday’s meeting included Abby Westendorf of Teutopolis, Michael Goldstein of St. Anthony and Ethan Fitzwilliam of Altamont. Westendorf thanked the board for its service to the county.

    Hammer praised the group after the meeting for its work.

    “I applaud them for stepping forward and taking leadership roles,” she said.


Illinois p2d2 students help establish the p2d2 bill hb2056

By Kiera Manion-Fischer | | Posted:Thursday, March 17, 2011 8:50 pm | (3) Comments

SPRINGFIELD — A proposal pending in the state legislature may make it easier for police departments to pay for a prescription drug disposal program that began in Pontiac.
The Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal program, or P2D2, was launched about four years ago by students at Pontiac Township High School and their teacher, Paul Ritter. The program has spread to other communities and states.
Students were concerned that prescription drugs disposed of improperly, usually down household drains, were polluting groundwater.
High school students in Antioch heard about the program and brought the idea to state Rep. JoAnn Osmond, who is sponsoring a measure that will allow for the safe disposal of prescription drugs at local police departments.
Law enforcement agencies statewide can recoup the cost of incinerating the drugs through a $20 court fee added to every drug arrest in Illinois.
“Each police department that participates would be able to get a grant to recoup,” said Osmond, an Antioch Republican. State Reps. Keith Sommer, R-Morton, and Jason Barickman, R-Champaign, who represent the Pontiac area, signed on as co-sponsors to the measure.
The legislation was sent to the full House for further debate Thursday. Twelve high school students from Pontiac watched the committee hearing and three students visited from Antioch.
“Today is the culmination of all the hard work and efforts of students across Illinois who are wanting to have proper pharmaceutical disposal, responsible disposal, for the state of Illinois in every county. And so, in order for that to happen, there has to be a source of funding to make that possible,” said Ritter.
Michael Hall, a junior at Antioch Community High School and environmental club member, testified before the committee. He said local law enforcement supported the program but were concerned about funding, and that was why the legislation was needed.
Hall said prescription drugs can easily reach waterways.
“When people found out their kids were abusing these drugs, they decided to get rid of them, and they did by flushing them down the drain. And what does is that releases the medications into our water system,” Hall said.
The legislation is House Bill 2056.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pill disposal box installed at Police Dept.

The final phase of the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program (P2D2), which offers safe disposal of expired and unused drugs, has taken place in Mendota with last week’s installation of a drop box in the lobby of the Mendota Police Department. Two other Mendota locations, Mendota Community Hospital and Goslin Drug Store, are also drop off sites, however, narcotics may be disposed of only at the police department location.

Attending the drop box’s unveiling on Feb. 18, Mendota Chief of Police Thomas Smith commended the program’s effort to protect our water supply and the environment. “We’re real excited about this program,” Smith said. “By bringing unused drugs to the drop box, the medications are not being flushed into the water system or ending up at the landfills where they could leach into the soil.”

Smith emphasized that people can bring any drugs to the Mendota Police Department and place them in the drop box with no questions asked. He said that pills may be left in their bottles but requested that the name on the container be covered with a black marker. Jennifer Sines, Illinois Valley Community Hospital clinical pharmacist and organizer of the LaSalle County P2D2 program, will routinely pick up the medications, which will then be disposed of according to EPA rules.

Smith thanked Sines and Mendota native Paul Ritter, who founded the P2D2 program, for working with Mendota on the program. Ritter, who now teaches Ecology and Earth Science classes at Pontiac High School, pointed out that this type of program is made possible due to the efforts of many volunteers as well as sponsors such as the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, Area Career Center in LaSalle, Illinois Valley Community Hospital, and the Illinois EPA.

“The cool thing is that all this work has netted in the last year alone over 95,000 pounds of pharmaceuticals,” Ritter said. “It might be one or two pills at a time but no matter what, it’s all mounting up and it’s the ‘ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ mentality. We’re preventing what’s going in our water so some day our children don’t have to pay for it.”

Smith added that since the program was instituted in LaSalle County last May, it has produced 450 pounds of non-controlled pharmaceuticals and 30.8 pounds of controlled narcotics. Smith said that with the drop box now in place, he hopes the public will make use of it. “We won’t ask any questions,” he said. “You come in, open it like a regular mailbox and drop the pills in.”

Pontiac students win recycling award

PONTIAC -- Pontiac Township High School ecology students have won a national environmental award for an ongoing recycling project.
"I feel really good about it, and I think it's amazing how you can change the environment for the better and show people how to do it," said junior Amber White, 18.
The group won the President's Environmental Youth Award through the Environmental Protection Agency. The award honors the students' work with the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal program, which encourages people to dispose of unused or expired medication at specified drop-off points rather than to simply throw them down the sink.
The project started in early 2008 in teacher Paul Ritter's ecology class. The class has partnered with the city and retailers before the idea spread elsewhere. Ritter said more than 100,000 pounds of drugs have been collected in Illinois alone and P2D2 programs have been developed in 12 states.
"It is such an amazing feeling to know that students across America are working so hard in an environmental area," said Ritter. "It's so rewarding to know that all of their hard work and efforts are being recognized at this high a level."
Ritter said trace amounts of improperly disposed medications are found in rivers and drinking water supplies, harming wildlife and potentially people.
One winner is selected from each of U.S. EPA's 10 regions, and each winner is invited to attend a award ceremony in Washington, D.C.
"I feel pretty good about it, and it's encouraging to know that we can step up and do what is right," said junior Bethany Guelde, 16.

Pontiac HS honored for drug-disposal program

The Pontiac Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program continues to receive national attention. The program, also known as P2D2, has received the President's Environmental Youth Award through the Environmental Protection Agency. Pontiac Township High School Ecology Teacher Paul Ritter says in Illinois alone, P2D2 has been responsible for the proper destruction of over 100,000 pounds of pharmaceuticals. Ritter’s PTHS students were instrumental in starting the program, which encourages people to properly dispose of unused prescription medicine.

Ritter says the program continues to grow.

Ottawa Police collect pounds of pills for disposal

The prescription pill disposal depository box at the Ottawa Police Department was emptied this week with the assistance of Jennifer Sines from Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru.

More than 181 pounds of controlled and noncontrolled medication was collected in the box since February and will be properly disposed of.

Ottawa Police Capt. Brent Roalson said, "I would personally like to thank all those who have participated to date, and as a reminder, this is a 'no-question-asked' disposal program."

"We know we are being exposed to other people's drugs through our drinking water, and that can't be good," Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment of the State University of New York at Albany, said in a press release.

Millions of Americans are ingesting daily a potentially dangerous cocktail of antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones every time they have a glass of water, according to a recent Associated Press investigation.

While researchers do not know what risks result from decades of persistent exposure to random combinations of pharmaceuticals, they know it can't be good. Recent studies have found these low-level combos can have an alarming effect on human cells and wildlife.

Despite the fact the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, scientists are worried about the long-term consequences to human health. Water providers rarely disclose results of pharmaceutical screenings, unless they are forced to report those levels.

The drugs get into the water through urine and people who flush their unused excess medications down the toilet. While wastewater is treated before it is discharged into reservoirs, rivers or lakes, most treatments do not remove all drug residue before some of the water is piped right back to consumers.

Experts say the best way to get rid of unwanted medications is to use such disposal sites as the Ottawa one.

The dropbox is in the police station lobby station and is accessible 24 hours a day.

EPA Selects Illinois Students for the President’s Environmental Youth Award

(Chicago, May 20, 2010) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has selected middle school students Dana Gattone, Angel Loizzo and Maggie O’Brien from St. Philip the Apostle School in Addision, Ill., as regional winners of the 2010 President's Environmental Youth Award. Winners from each of EPA's 10 regions were recognized today at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

"The work of these motivated students shows that you can be an environmental champion at any age. It is inspiring to see such talented young people taking an active interest in the world around them," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur.

The three students formed the Recycle Because You Care team. When they discovered that less than one-fourth of the households in their neighborhood recycle, they decided to take action. With support from the mayor of Addison, RBYC worked with Addison Public Works and Allied Waste to distribute recycling bins in Addison and disseminate information about recycling information. They helped implement a new recycling program at their school and shared their successes with school administrators.

RBYC created a public service announcement run by the local cable access channel, and developed and taught a recycling class at a local library. As a result of these efforts, the teens helped keep 85 Tons of trash out of landfills in October 2009, or over 2 million pounds per year in Addison alone. They hope to spread the message to other area mayors and get recycling legislation passed in Illinois.

The second place winners are Lauren and Irene Gibson, Nicki Hutchins, Kristen Palamara, and Emily Roberts. The students participate in Carmel Area Roots & Shoots in Carmel, Ind., and created and administer the Carmel Green Teen Micro-Grant Program. Their program raises environmental awareness, builds community unity and empowers youth. The Carmel Green Teen grants program has funded projects such as improvement of an organic community garden at a local church and the launch of a reusable shopping bag campaign with local scouts.

The third place winner is Jordyn Schara from Reedsburg, Wis., assisted by students from Pontiac High School in Pontiac. Ill. Schara was recognized for the Wisconsin and Illinois P2D2 Program (Prescription Drug Disposal Program), which was adapted from a model in Illinois. Through education and “drug take-back” collection events, the program keeps unused prescription medications out the waste stream in Illinois and Wisconsin and helps keep drugs out of the hands of teenagers. More than 440 pounds of drugs were collected at the first event.

The President's Environmental Youth Awards program is an annual contest sponsored by EPA to honor creative environmental projects developed and implemented by K-12 students. The winning projects were chosen from entries submitted by students in EPA Region 5’s six states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Paul Ritter is a man who has been lucky, fortunate and good.

Paul Ritter is a man who has been lucky, fortunate and good. Although his personality may try to deflect the part about being “good,” he will likely tell you he has been fortunate and lucky.
Ritter has helped spearhead the P2D2 drug disposal program that has caught on in communities around the state. He is an environmentalist advocate and has been instrumental in dealing with other academic programs that illustrate his teaching ability.
He is also a good organizer, as his classroom achievements and the recently completed youth golf camp proves as an example.
Ritter is a friendly sort with many people who call him “friend.”
It is hard to dispute the good and fortunate qualities about the gentleman. What also cannot be disputed is being lucky.
The youth golf camp had 38 participants ranging in age from 6 years old to high school age.
“It was a great job by everybody,” Ritter said in an interview Thursday. “Everyone improved from Day 1 to Day 4, and the instruction by Alex Arbogast was awesome.
“The kids also got to play two of the greatest course in central Illinois in the Elks and Wolf Creek. I could not be more thankful for everybody at the Elks, Wolf Creek and (those) who came out.”
Ritter, Arbogast, PTHS girls coach Dan Butler and Brittany Rentz were the main instructors.
“Golf is one of the greatest games that has ever been. To be able to have kids excited and go out and play with their parents after they’re done (here) is the greatest thing in the world,” Ritter said.
His most recent stroke of good fortune came when he played in the pro-am event at the State Farm Classic golf tournament this week in Springfield. The Classic is one of the stops on the LPGA Tour.
Ritter said he was talked into filling out an entry blank one day while taking care of some business at Lisa Kelley’s State Farm office in Pontiac.
He said he didn’t expect anything out of it, but got a call a few weeks alter. He said he was a little suspect about the call, so he made a return call and found out he, indeed, had been selected to play in the pro-am at Panther Creek Country Club.
It wasn’t enough that Ritter was going to be a part of a foursome that included a touring pro, he was part of a team that had the No. 2-ranked player in the world as the pro.
Ai Miyazato of Japan was the player Ritter was grouped with.
“Ai and her caddy, Mick, were two of the greatest people you would ever want to walk around with,” Ritter said.
“It was an overwhelming and humbling experience, but it was an awesome experience. It was so amazing to play with someone so genuinely nice and someone of her caliber.
He wasn’t alone on this excursion. PTHS captain for 2010 Marty Schulz was along as Ritter’s caddy.
“He gave me all the right clubs and worked with me,” Ritter said of Schulz. “It was nice to work with Marty on that level.”
Ritter said his team finished 15 under in the scramble format event. That, too, he noted, was something he had never experienced before.

Syringe collection program aims to get needles off street

Jennifer Sines (left), pharmacist at Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru, and Donna Morscheiser, director of Family Pharmacy in Peru, hold up plastic containers used for the disposal of used syringes and lancets. The Prescription Drug Disposal Program (P2D2) has expanded to include the recovery of used needles, provided they are enclosed in thick plastic containers, as needles pose a hazard to waste collectors and the public at large.

NT photo/Kemp Smith Police once found nearly 70 syringes strewn on the U.S. 6 roadside and an estimated 65,000 people suffer needle-sticks, with dangerous consequences, each year.
Jennifer Sines and Donna Morscheiser decided to do something about it.
Starting no later than Aug. 1, the Prescription Drug Disposal Program, or P2D2 program, will be expanded to accept used syringes and lancets, provided they are received in a secure container. Drop boxes are available at six area police stations; they are Peru, Mendota, Oglesby, Ottawa, Marseilles and state police.
“More than anything, we want to get the needles off the street,” said Sines, a pharmacist at Illinois Valley Community Hospital, Peru, “but there are a lot of diabetics out there and they need a place to dispose of needles.”
Morscheiser, director of Family Pharmacy in Peru, said her store and other pharmacies provide low-cost, disposable containers for people to transport their syringes.
“Though the containers are not expensive, people can also use an old laundry detergent container or coffee can that won’t get pierced,” Morscheiser said. “That’s a way of recycling while keeping needles out of the trash.”
P2DS has retained a special waste company that will incinerate all syringes and lancets to keep them out of the waste stream and prevent accidental pricks and contamination.
Outside Chicago and the Quad Cities, Sines said no other downstate community offers a needle recovery program. Funding for the program was provided by IVCH and Miller Group Charitable Trust. Miller Group Media includes the NewsTribune, ArgiNews publications and radio stations WAJK 99.3 FM, WLPO 1220 AM and The Wolf 96.5 FM.
P2D2 was established to provide proper disposal of unwanted or unfinished pharmaceuticals such as antibiotic pills. Thrown into the waste stream or flushed down a toilet, these drugs can enter groundwater or streams and creep into the public drinking water supplies.

The program has been successful and has amassed more than 1,000 pounds of pharmaceuticals.
Sines said adding needles to P2D2 is a new solution to an old problem. A single diabetic can generate up to 28 syringes a week and waste haulers have long risked suffering needle sticks from syringes jutting out of plastic garbage bags.

IISG, P²D² unite to stop improper medication disposal

Paul Ritter, a Pontiac Township High School science teacher and creator of the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal (P²D²) Program, did not expect that a question he asked his ecology class in 2008 would have led to the development of a rapidly growing medication disposal program and a partnership with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG).
The answer to Ritter’s question—where do unused medications go when patients no longer need them?—is that many people flush them down the toilet, causing the pharmaceuticals to turn up in waterways, and in some cases drinking water supplies, across the country. Ritter’s response was to develop P²D², a program that seeks to deter that behavior through education and by providing the resources for community collection programs.
“When I got into this, I didn’t expect the success and magnitude of the program,” said Ritter, who initially wanted his students to simply research the question. “It just happened.”
But Ritter and his partner, social studies teacher Eric Bohm, realized that that the unexpected growth of the program would require more brainpower and resources. “We’re two high school teachers,” Ritter said. “We know education. IISG brings the science.”
IISG had been combating improper medication disposal for years through their toolkit and workshops when they joined forces with Ritter and P²D².
IISG is able to help P²D² by providing outreach and funding, while P²D² serves as another outlet for their resources. “Paul wanted information to give out to communities,” said Susan Boehme, IISG coastal sediment specialist. “IISG is able to provide information that is relevant and accurate.”
For example, IISG’s toolkit—Disposal of Unwanted Medicines: A Resource for Action in Your Community— provides the necessary information for a community to start up a collection program. That includes case studies, outreach material, literature on the subject, legislation, and facts about international donation.
IISG has also been instrumental in Ritter’s efforts to establish drop boxes in communities for medication collection, providing funding for nine of the 30-50 boxes established nationwide by P2D2. In LaSalle County, Illinois, drop boxes have been established in three locations with four more in the works. Thus far, 475 pounds of pharmaceuticals have been collected throughout the county.
Furthermore, IISG is responsible for the statewide effort in Illinois and Indiana to collect at police stations, an idea presented by the staff at an Illinois police station. Police station collections allow people to drop off controlled substances, which would otherwise involve complex legal issues.
The latest resource to come out of the symbiotic partnership is a multi-disciplinary service-learning curriculum—The Medicine Chest—which seeks to educate students about improper medication disposal and give them the tools to inform their communities. IISG developed it around the desire to distribute Ritter’s and Bohm’s lesson plans, which serve as the centerpiece of the publication, to a larger audience.
“They’re impact is immeasurable,” Ritter said of IISG. “They’re involved in so many aspects. I am truly thankful for their help and support.”
Boehme similarly had high praise for Ritter, stressing how important his energy and dedication are to both organizations’ efforts to curb improper medication disposal. “Paul is able to connect directly with communities beyond the reach of IISG,” Boehme said. “We make each other’s programs better.”

Waterloo collects unwanted drugs

WATERLOO • This small town, known for its rolling farms and German polka band, wants your drugs.
Valium. Vicodin. Percocet. Big red pills. Little blue pills. You name it, Waterloo wants it.
"No questions asked," says Mayor Tom Smith. "Just give it to us."
Smith wants to get unwanted drugs out of suburban medicine cabinets for a noble reason: He worries that leftover prescription drugs pollute the water supply or get into the hands of experimental teenagers.
"They're either washed down the drain or snuck out of the house by young kids," Smith said.
So Waterloo has adopted a drug disposal program that lets anyone throw unwanted medicine - from antidepressants to birth control pills - into a box at the police station.
The permanent, 24-hour-a-day municipal program is the first of its kind in the St. Louis region, according to Karen Cotton, a spokeswoman for Illinois American Water. Other towns, including O'Fallon, Mo., and St. Charles, have recently had one-day drug collection programs.
"People have been told for years to flush their old medications," Cotton said. "We don't want them to do that."
A 2008 Associated Press investigation showed that drinking water samples throughout the country were laced with small traces of antidepressants, antibiotics, anti-seizure drugs, hormones and painkillers. Scientists say there is currently no effective way to remove pharmaceuticals from waste water - and they worry that the drug exposure could cause reproductive defects in fish, among other problems.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency says "disposal of unused or unwanted pharmaceuticals is an emerging and complex environmental issue."
The state agency urges the public to take unused pharmaceuticals to a collection program or household hazardous waste collection event.
Smith said he learned about the problem when he was traveling through Arkansas.
"I read about a program they had down there and thought we ought to do it here," Smith said.
Studies show that consumers often purchase pharmaceuticals in large quantities. Often, the prescriptions are only partially used.
Waterloo has partnered with the Illinois-based Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program - or P2D2 - and American Water, which supplies water to St. Louis and St. Charles counties, as well as St. Clair, Madison, and Monroe counties in Illinois.
Authorities have placed a collection box in the lobby of the Waterloo Police Department, where residents can empty their medicine cabinet of prescription and over-the-counter drugs 24 hours a day. The drugs are then incinerated. Even illegal narcotics will be accepted.
"This is being treated as unwanted evidence," Smith said. "So, if you have someone who has a drug problem and wants to get off it, they can drop it off."
The program, which city leaders say comes with minimal costs, started Thursday.
In 2008, the nonprofit Area Resources for Community and Human Services received a federal grant for a yearlong drug take-back program and study at area Schnucks stores. The program's report said that pills dating as far back as 1970 were returned.
"Many family members returned large quantities of medications after a death," the report stated. "Often their loved one had died from a medical condition and no instructions had been given regarding what to do with the medication."
A recent take-back program in San Francisco found the average household had 2.7 pounds of unwanted or expired drugs, according to another study.
Paul Ritter, the P2D2 program coordinator, said he hopes other area cities will follow Waterloo's lead. Ritter, a high school teacher in Pontiac, Ill., started the program with students as a way to make a global difference.
So far, the group has taken in more than 95,000 pounds of drugs, according to
"It's my life's mission," Ritter said. "I want to make a difference everywhere."

Medication disposal program nets 130,000 pounds to date

Illinois American Water's model for water source protection through proper pharmaceutical disposal has helped set up 12 disposal programs, including one in Streator, and contributed to the collection and proper disposal of 130,000 pounds of unwanted medications.

The pharmaceutical disposal program utilized by Illinois American Water was developed by Pontiac High School Township students and their teacher Paul Ritter. The program, P2D2, has been recognized by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois EPA and the Department of Natural Resources as a model for all pharmaceutical disposal programs.

Illinois American Water, a member of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Medication Education Disposal Solutions task force, works with P2D2, communities and environmental leaders to place pharmaceutical drop boxes at police departments so people can easily dispose of their unwanted medications. The drop boxes, similar to mail boxes, are placed in a convenient location within the police department and bolted to the floor. Collected medications are destroyed through incineration.

On Sept. 25, the DEA plans its first National Take Back Day for prescription collection. Community disposal programs supported by Illinois American Water include three locations in Peoria as well as sites in Bartonville, Champaign, Chillicothe, Pekin, Peoria Heights, Pontiac, Streator, Urbana and Waterloo.

Additional programs will be set up by year-end, including the implementation of the newest program in Alton on Tuesday, Sept. 28.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Alton debuts drug disposal box

ALTON - The city launched a drug disposal program Tuesday that will allow people to get rid of unwanted or expired medications safely.  "The disposal box will make a positive impact on our local water supplies," said Karla Olson Teasley, president of Illinois-American Water Co.  A kickoff ceremony was held to initiate the use of the pharmaceutical drop-off box in the lobby of the Donald E. Sandidge Alton Law Enforcement Center.  Teasley said the box provides an easy way for the public to dispose of unwanted medications properly, plus keep them out of the hands of children.  The box is similar to a mailbox, bolted to the floor and in range of a surveillance camera inside the police station. The expired or unwanted medications can be over-the-counter or prescription.  The unwanted or expired medications will be incinerated, which is the Environmental Protection Agency's recommended approach for pharmaceutical disposal.  "We found that it takes more than just one person or one organization to make these kinds of programs happen," Teasley said.  The project is a collaboration among Illinois-American Water, the Alton Police Department, Alton Mayor Tom Hoechst and LeClaire Family Pharmacy (formerly Massey Pharmacy) of North Alton.  "We are protecting two of our most valuable resources - our children and our water," Hoechst said. "It's important to keep drugs out of water systems."  Hoescht said that less than 1 percent of the world's water is fit for human consumption.  "It goes to show you that we should maintain and preserve the integrity of our water system," he said. "Without it, we cannot survive."  Karen Cotton, spokeswoman for Illinois-American, said the Alton drop-off box is the company's second such container in Southern Illinois and the 13th statewide. A 14th pharmaceutical box is in the works for Belleville, but plans are not finalized, she said.  "Our goal is to establish a greatly expanded network of secure pharmaceutical collection centers throughout the state," Cotton said.  Olivia Dorothy, river conservation liaison with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said Pontiac Township High School developed the P2D2 medication disposal program that has served as a model. She said the program accomplishes two goals - it keeps drugs off the streets and children safe, and it protects our drinking water.  "I really hope that someday we see this program in all Illinois communities," Dorothy said.  Cotton said some 130,000 pounds of unwanted medications have been collected at the 12 initial boxes and then incinerated to date.  The event in Alton was held in conjunction with National Take Back Day, which is a program of the U.S. Department of Justice and its Drug Enforcement Administration. The purpose is to remove potentially dangerous, controlled substances from the nation's medicine cabinets, ensuring they will not be used illegally or disposed of improperly so as to harm the environment or public health.

LaSalle County P2D2, Prescription Drug Disposal Program

Giving Illinois Valley residents a safe and ecological way to dispose of prescription medications is the goal of the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program recently launched in Oglesby by the Illinois Valley Community Hospital.  Outdated narcotic drugs can be taken to the Oglesby Police Department. Oglesby Police have installed a dropbox at the entrance door in which drugs can be placed.  IVCH pharmacist Jennifer Sines, organizer of what’s being called the LaSalle County P2D2 program, says the reason for different drop off locations for different types of drugs is that, legally, only police agencies can receive controlled substances. Examples include pain killers, sleeping pills, and anti-anxiety drugs.  “The police won’t ask any questions when narcotic drugs are dropped off,” says Sines. “All we ask is that the name on the bottle’s prescription label be blacked out with a marker.” Sines commended Health and Safety Commissioner Tom Porter and Police Chief James Knoblauch in Oglesby for their cooperation in getting the P2D2 program started locally.  The drugs collected by the police departments will be picked up by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and be disposed of by incineration.  “Until recently, consumers have been instructed to dispose of pharmaceuticals by flushing them down the drain or throwing them in the trash,” says Sines. “Both of these disposal methods are not environmentally sound practices.”
Sines says waste water treatment plants are not designed to remove chemicals found in prescription drugs. Pharmaceuticals put into landfills can leach into the surrounding soil and aquifer. “Either way, we are then dealing with the chemicals after they have entered the environment,” Sines says. “By collecting the drugs for incineration, the old adage ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ becomes very appropriate.”
Along with the P2D2 program there is a syringe take back program that the Oglesby Police Department will be participating in. We would prefer them to use a hard plastic container such as a laundry soap container or purchase an approved sharp container at the local pharmacy. These approved containers should have a way to lock the lid to prevent sharps from falling out.