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.

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