Rx for Action
- Important information about drug take-back opportunities in Wisconsin
- It's not too late to drop off your unwanted medicines
- Microplastic pollutants found in the Great Lakes
- UpClose with Melody Bernot
- Stakeholder meeting on California's Pharmaceuticals Extended Producer Responsibility Bill (SB727) set for November 13
- Don't forget DEA's National Drug Take-back Day on October 26
- How much metal do you like in your lipstick?
- Triclosan drives bacterial resistance in freshwater streams
- Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant
- NOAA National Sea Grant Office
- Sea Grant Great Lakes Network
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Product Stewardship Institute
- Extension Links
U of I Extension
Visiting Extension Specialist, Pollution Prevention
Visiting Science Writer
November 26, 2013 Important information about drug take-back opportunities in Wisconsin
From the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Pharmaceutical Waste News:
1. Registrations due today (11/22/13) for next Wisconsin controlled substance witness burn
Registrations are due today for the next controlled substance witness burn. Jefferson County is hosting the drop-off site for the witness burn on Tuesday, December 3rd and will pay for the witness burn fee from its 2013 Clean Sweep grant award, on behalf of law enforcement agencies that register by today.
For a copy of the registration form and more information, contact Mark Heal at email@example.com or 262-253-5833.
Source: Jefferson County and Veolia Environmental Services
2. WI DATCP announces 2014 pharmaceutical waste grant recipients
The WI Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection recently awarded $100,000 million dollars in grants to local communities in support of one-day and ongoing household medication collection programs. See the list of communities in the "cleansweep 2" link at:
November 11, 2013 It's not too late to drop off your unwanted medicines
Don't have a local medicine collection program in your area? Contact Laura Kammmin to see how easy it can be to start a program in your community.
October 30, 2013 Microplastic pollutants found in the Great Lakes
Researchers from 5 Gyres Institute and State University of New York (SUNY) Fredonia made the discovery in 2012 after collecting a total of 21 samples from the lakes. They found plastics in all but one sample. Of the three lakes, Lake Erie had the highest concentrations of plastics, roughly 90 percent of the total amount measured. The authors speculate that the high concentrations may be the result of currents carrying the plastics from the cities of Detroit, Cleveland, and Erie. Back in the lab, further inspection revealed that along with the microplastics, eight of the samples contained coal ash and coal fly ash (produced by coal-burning power plants).
Curious to see how Lake Michigan measures up with its sister lakes, IISG set sail this summer with members of 5 Gyres and SUNY to collect samples in southern Lake Michigan. To the naked eye, it looked like much of what the trawl collected were the same tiny microbeads found in the other three Great Lakes. We won't know for sure until later this year when Dr. Sherri Mason and her team at SUNY finish examining the 16 samples.
Of course, more complicated questions follow. Are fish or other aquatic species eating the plastics? Are toxins adhering to the particles? What impacts might microplastics have on the foodchain in Lake Michigan? Is there any risk for people who regularly consume fish from the lake?
The answers to these questions aren't yet available, but in the meantime, there are simple things that people can do to reduce the amount of plastic reaching the Great Lakes.
- Avoid using plastic cups, straws, containers, or bags whenever possible.
- Use facial scrubs and other personal care products that do not contain plastic microbeads. If you aren't sure whether the products you use contain the beads check out this new app.
- Volunteer at a local beach clean-up.
October 28, 2013 UpClose with Melody Bernot
October 21, 2013 Stakeholder meeting on California's Pharmaceuticals Extended Producer Responsibility Bill (SB727) set for November 13
A second stakeholder meeting on California's pharmaceutical stewardship bill, SB 727, has been scheduled for next month, moving the bill one step closer to a vote by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee. The bill, introduced by Senator Hanna-Beth Jackson, mirrors Alameda County's pharmaceutical ordinance, the first of its kind in the nation to require drug manufactures to develop, fund, and implement safe and secure medicine collection programs throughout the state. While SB 727 was introduced last year, it never made it to a vote, as the Committee Chair saw a need for greater stakeholder input.
What: SB 727 Stakeholder Meeting
When: Wednesday, November 13th, 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., PST
Where: Room 112, Capitol Building, Sacramento
Questions? Contact Rebecca Newhouse at (916) 651-4108.
October 18, 2013 Don't forget DEA's National Drug Take-back Day on October 26
Having expired or unwanted medicine in the house can lead to accidental poisonings of children, the elderly, or pets. Medicine take-back days are a great way to reduce this risk. In addition, they help reduce the amount of pharmaceuticals that reach waterways and our drinking water. Some pharmaceuticals are known to disrupt reproduction and normal development in fish. Others cause behavior changes in aquatic wildlife that make it harder for them to survive. By taking your unwanted medicines for proper disposal you will be helping to protect your family, pets, and the environment.
For more information about the event, contact Laura Kammin at 217-333-1115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
October 15, 2013 How much metal do you like in your lipstick?
The authors of Concentrations and Potential Health Risks of Metals in Lip Products wrote that they strove not just to report on the presence of metals, but to compare estimated exposure (i.e., how much of the lipstick the girls likely applied and accidentally ingested) to health-based standards. What sets this paper apart is that the researchers tried to relate the levels of metals they found to potential health risks. This is not an easy thing to do since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently regulate metals in cosmetics.
What did they find? All 32 products contained manganese, titanium and aluminum, the later two in high concentrations. Lead was found in 75 percent of the products, and 47 percent of them contained concentrations higher than the FDA-recommended maximum for candy likely to be consumed by small children. Cadmium and chromium were also found at high levels in three of the products. The authors pointed out that both are known to be human carcinogens. What they didn't find were clear patterns between the amount of metals found and specific brands. Color, cost or type of product (gloss vs. lipstick) were not predictors of high metal concentrations either. Highlighting the need for all those lipstick wearers out there to do your homework before buying your favorite products.
S. Liu, K. Hammond, and A. Rosa-Cheatham. 2013. Concentrations and potential health risks of metals in lip products. Environmental Health Perspectives 121(6):705-710.
September 26, 2013 Triclosan drives bacterial resistance in freshwater streams
Triclosan, a compound common in soaps, detergents, and even plastics, is designed to kill bacteria, but it may also be driving the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in rivers and streams. This finding, published earlier this summer in Environmental Science & Technology, is just the latest in a growing list showing that high concentrations of triclosan change the mixture of species in bacterial communities, interfere with hormone systems in fish, and is lethal to the algae that form the base of the food web.
Researchers identified the connection between triclosan concentrations and resistant bacterial communities during a combined field and lab study designed to investigate the impact of the antibacterial on bacteria on the riverbed. From a series of samples taken from three Chicago-area rivers, researchers found two significant correlations: triclosan concentrations and the proportion of bottom-dwelling bacteria that are resistant to it both increase with urbanization. The woodland creek tested had the lowest levels of resistant bacteria, while the urban river had the highest. And artificial stream experiments conducted at Loyola University Chicago later confirmed the finding that exposure to high concentrations of triclosan triggers resistance.
There are numerous ways a bacterial community can develop resistance, and it is still unclear which mechanisms are behind freshwater bacteria's resistance to triclosan. Results of the artificial stream study, though, suggest that exposure to triclosan actually favors bacterial species already resistant to the compound, leaving them to thrive while more sensitive species die out. The result is a less diverse bacterial community made up of species that can withstand high concentrations of triclosan.
This shift in species composition could have significant impacts on the overall health of aquatic ecosystems. Different species of bacteria play different roles–everything from producing oxygen to breaking down leaves and branches that fall in the water. Change the mix of bacteria, and aquatic life higher up the food chain could be left without the nutrients they need to survive. And because some bacteria are toxic to plankton, fish, and other wildlife, changing the makeup of a bacterial community may prove fatal.
Increased resistance may also affect human health. According to the researches, triclosan-resistant bacteria are commonly resistant to other antibiotics, ones we use to treat diseases. Rising concentrations of triclosan in water, then, may increase the number of pathogens that can withstand the antibiotics we currently rely on to kill them.
Drury, B., Scott, J., Rosi-Marshall, E.J., and Kelly, J.J. 2013. Triclosan exposure increases resistance and influences taxonomic composition of benthic bacterial communities. Environmental Science and Technology 47:8923-8930.
September 23, 2013 Chicago adds more drug take-back locations
From the Chicago Department of Public Health:
More Pharmaceutical Disposal Drop Boxes Available in Chicago
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDHP) in partnership with the Chicago Police Department (CPD) announced that its pharmaceutical disposal drop box program is now available at all Chicago police stations to allow citywide accessibility for the proper disposal of expired and unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Since 2008, the drop boxes were located in just five police stations.
"Discarding our medication responsibly protects our waterways, our environment and our neighbors," said CDPH Commissioner Bechara Choucair, M.D. "Now that our drop boxes are available citywide, residents can stop throwing their medicine in the trash or down the drain and instead dispose of them in a safe and convenient way."
Available 24-hours a day year-round, Chicago's pharmaceutical disposal program offers residents a convenient and environmentally friendly alternative to flushing medicines into the wastewater stream or placing them in municipal landfills. The main goals of the program are to help avoid unintended use, reduce or prevent recreational pharmaceutical use and to keep contaminants out of Chicago's public waterways.
By using the police facilities as a drop-off location, controlled substances can be deposited safely and destroyed under the observation of sworn law enforcement officials.
Ward 39 Alderman Margaret Laurino has been a proponent of the City's pharmaceutical disposal program for two years and played a key role in the program's expansion.
"This is good for Chicago because seniors will be able to properly dispose of unused or unwanted medications," Laurino said."It's also a great boost for the environment."
Pharmaceuticals (non-controlled substances) can also be brought to the city's Household Chemicals & Computer Recycling Facility at 1150 N. North Branch Street.
The Chicago pharmaceutical program is provided as a service for residents only. Business and commercial sector waste will not be accepted at any of the drop-off locations.
CDPH aims to protect the public health and the environment by reducing environmental risk throughout the city including creating healthy and safe environments. For more information, visit www.CityofChicago.org/HEALTH.
September 5, 2013 Researchers find 32 PPCPs in Lake Michigan
Prescription drugs are contaminating Lake Michigan two miles from Milwaukee's sewage outfalls, suggesting that the lake is not diluting the compounds as most scientists expected, according to new research. This ability of the drugs to travel and remain at relatively high concentrations means that fish and other aquatic life are exposed, so there could be "some serious near-shore impacts," said Rebecca Klaper, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In addition, Milwaukee draws its drinking water from Lake Michigan, although no pharmaceuticals have been detected in the city's water. The researchers reported that 14 of the chemicals "were found to be of medium or high ecological risk," and that the concentrations "indicate a significant threat to the health of the Great Lakes." Nevertheless, it is not clear what, if any, effects the drugs are having on fish and other creatures in Lake Michigan. Click here to read the full article.