Friday, February 11, 2011

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.

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