Tuesday, April 5, 2011

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 epa.state.il.us/medication-disposal.

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

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