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.