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.”