Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and University of Illinois Extension

Rx for Action

California's SB 1014 pushes for a statewide drug disposal program

California has proposed SB 1014, which would enact the Home-Generated Pharmaceutical Waste Collection Disposal Act. The bill is modeled after an ordinance in Alameda County (CA) that requires pharmaceutical companies to fund medicine take-back programs. King County in Washington approved a similar ordinance. Both ordinances are being legally challenged.

SB 1014 passed the state's Environmental Quality committee on March 25th. If the bill passes and becomes law, California would be the first state in the US to pass a drug disposal bill based on a product stewardship model. Illinois passed the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Fund in 2011. It provides local law enforcement agencies grants to cover the costs of collection, transportation, and incineration of pharmaceuticals from residential sources. The funding comes from a $20 fine charged to those who commit certain drug offenses.

Posted by Laura Kammin at 9:15 AM | Permalink | Categories: Collection Programs, In the News, Legislation, Resources | Leave a comment

PPCPs and other contaminants together increase risk to marine algae

Much of the research on PPCP pollution focuses on individual chemicals. Knowing how triclosan, carbamazepine, or caffeine effect aquatic wildlife is undeniably important. But it doesn't necessarily tell us much about the actual risks to algae, fish, and other species. Our lakes, rivers, and oceans are home to much more than triclosan—much more even than PPCPs. To really understand the danger these chemicals pose to aquatic ecosystems, we need to know how PPCPs interact with other pollutants commonly found in our waterways.

That is exactly what a group of Norwegian researchers set out to do in a recent study published in Aquatic Toxicology. In a series of lab tests, the group investigated how 11 chemicals from different categories—PPCPs, biocides, PAHs, and organic compounds—effect the growth of S. pseudocostatum, a common marine algae. In addition to individual chemicals, researchers tested mixtures from the same category and across categories at different concentrations, allowing them to track changes in toxicity as the common contaminants interacted with each other.

Their results revealed that each of the tested mixtures had an additive effect on algal growth—the toxicity of the combined chemicals was simply the individual toxicities added together. Imagine that a specific concentration of an antidepressant reduced growth by 25 percent and the same concentration of a biocide cut growth by 50 percent. An additive effect means that those chemicals combined would reduce algal growth by 75 percent.

This chemical interaction may sound pretty straightforward, but the causes aren't quite as clear. The researchers did find an additive effect when they tested a mixture of two biocides, four PPCPs, and two organic contaminants. But the driving force behind the mixture's toxicity—what exactly was 'added up'—changed as individual concentrations got higher. At lower concentrations, the mixture slowed growth rates by attacking a diverse range of cellular functions in the algae, like interrupting DNA replication or inhibiting efflux pumps. At higher concentrations, though, the modes of action converged, meaning the mixture attacked fewer functions with more intensity.

This is the first study to report such a shift, and it is unclear exactly what caused it. One possibility, though, is that these chemicals attack a broader suite of functions at higher concentrations, increasing the likelihood that multiple chemicals in a mixture have the same mode of action.

Petersen, K., Heiass, H.H., and Tollefsen, K.E. 2014. Combined effects of pharmaceuticals, personal care products, biocides and organic contaminants on the growth of Skeletonema pseudocostatum. Aquatic Toxicology 150: 45-54.

Posted by Anjanette Riley at 5:11 PM | Permalink | Categories: Latest Research | Leave a comment

Now accepting applications for new outreach position

Interested in PPCP pollution and helping individuals and communities learn about proper disposal? We may have the job for you.

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant is seeking a pollution prevention outreach specialist to help advance our pharmaceutical and personal care products program. The selected applicant will be tasked with creating outreach materials, helping communities establish takeback programs, and representing IISG at outreach events and related conferences. The pollution prevention outreach specialist will also be responsible for maintaining this website––and the program's social media platforms.

This 12-month, 75 percent position requires a Bachelor's degree–Master's preferred–and experience with online, print, and in-person communication. The selected applicant will report to the IISG pollution prevention program specialist. Occasional travel may be required.

Applications will be accepted until April 7. For complete details on this position, including application instructions, visit the University of Illinois job listing. For questions or additional information, contact Lisa Merrifield.

Posted by Anjanette Riley at 12:22 PM | Permalink | Leave a comment

Marsh Pharmacy announces Spring 2014 Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet event

From Marsh Pharmacy:

Marsh and MainStreet Pharmacies will be collecting and qualifying unwanted medications for FREE disposal on:
Friday, March 14 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 15 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, March 16 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Monday, March 17 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Check for the location of all Marsh and MainStreet Market Pharmacies.

What kinds of medicine can I bring?

  • Pills, capsules and liquids (no aerosols, inhalers, Nitroglycerin or alcohol containing products).
  • Medicine must be in original container with original label intact.
  • Medicines that have the words ''toxic'', ''corrosive", ''reactive'', ''ignitable'', ''flammable'' or ''poison'' will not be accepted.
  • Only one type of medication can be in a single container, no mixtures.
  • No pill organizers will be accepted.
  • No controlled or illegal substances (check with your regular pharmacist if you're not sure whether a medicine is controlled).
  • Sharps collected only in resealable, hard plastic containers.

This program is for individuals only. Nothing will be accepted from health centers, clinics, doctor's offices, or other organizations. Pharmacist's decision to accept or reject any medication or container is final.

For more information, call 317-594-2408.

Event partners are: Indiana Department of Environmental Management, Indiana Poison Center, NuGenesis Environmental Services, Indiana Association for Home and Hospice Care, Inc., Tri-State Distribution

Posted by Laura Kammin at 3:00 PM | Permalink | Categories: Collection Programs, In the News, Single-day Events | Leave a comment

Illinois Water Resources Center Annual Small Grant: Student Research Awards Application Deadline: 14 March 2014

The Illinois Water Resources Center, located at the University of Illinois, is now accepting applications for our Annual Small Grants: Student Research Awards program. This year we are soliciting graduate and undergraduate student projects that address significant challenges in Illinois water resources. Graduate students may request up to $10,000 and undergraduates up to $2,000. Applications must be submitted by faculty members or professionals affiliated with 4-year institutions, state or local government agencies, or non-profits in Illinois on behalf of their students. The full RFP is available on our website.

Applications are due to Corrie Layfield ( by 4pm on Friday, March 14, 2014. The project period is May 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014. Please contact Lisa Merrifield ( with questions.

Posted by Laura Kammin at 8:30 AM | Permalink | Categories: Latest Research, Resources | Leave a comment

Wisconsin Drug Disposal Bill passes the Senate

There's an important update to what's new in unwanted medicine legislation. On February 18, the Senate passed the Wisconsin Drug Disposal Bill (AB 448 / SB 351). The bill allows for mail-back and on-site medicine collection programs, and would clear the way for
controlled substances to be legally brought to take-back programs by individuals other than the person for whom they were prescribed. If signed by the Governor, the new law will take effect in July 2015, pending new regulations on disposal of controlled substances expected to be released by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Posted by Laura Kammin at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Categories: Collection Programs, In the News, Legislation | Leave a comment

EPA requests input on hazardous waste management in the retail sector

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking data from large retailers regarding the management of hazardous waste, including pharmaceuticals. The agency seeks comment on existing data on amount of hazardous waste the retail industry generates, and suggestions for improving hazardous waste regulations for retail operations.

EPA's pre-publication version of the Retailer "Notice of Data Availability" (NODA):

More information on the retail sector NODA:

The request for information from the retail sector is separate from the ongoing EPA rulemaking on pharmaceutical hazardous waste from the health care sector.

Source: EPA

Posted by Laura Kammin at 2:46 PM | Permalink | Categories: In the News | Leave a comment

All aboard for a week-long teacher research cruise on Lake Erie

Teachers and non-formal educators can trade in their whiteboards and textbooks for life vests and sampling equipment this summer during a week-long workshop aboard the EPA research vessel Lake Guardian. The Shipboard and Shoreline Science workshop, held from July 7-13, will give teachers grades 4-12 a unique opportunity to work alongside scientists as they conduct field research across Lake Erie. Applications for the 15 available spaces will be accepted until March 7.

The annual research cruise takes place on a different Great Lake every year, giving educators from a variety of disciplines an opportunity to learn first-hand about the unique ecology of each lake as well as how people's actions are affecting the region. This year, participants will monitor water quality, study the microscopic species at the bottom of the Lake Erie food web, and learn about the latest research on plastic pollution.

"The cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience what it's like to be a Great Lakes scientist." said Kristin TePas, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant community outreach specialist and workshop coordinator. "Each year brings an amazing group of educators, and it is inspiring to see how they incorporate what they've learned into the classroom."

Educators will also work together to examine classroom activities that expand students' understanding of the Great Lakes and identify new ways to incorporate hands-on research into their classroom. Sea Grant specialists onboard will provide educational resources and support. And after the cruise, specialists will be available to help teachers implement new activities based on their experiences.

Participants will receive a $500 stipend at the end of the week-long cruise to help cover any travel expenses to and from the launch point in Cleveland, OH. For more information on the workshop and to apply, visit

The annual Shipboard and Shoreline Science Workshop is hosted by the Center for Great Lakes Literacy and coordinated by the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network and the U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office. Funding comes from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Posted by Laura Kammin at 9:11 AM | Permalink | Categories: For Teachers, Workshops & Events | Leave a comment

IISG plants outreach seeds at Indiana veterinary conference

Last week's trip to Indianapolis for the annual Indiana Veterinary Medical Association conference was not a typical event for IISG. The three-day conference gave Laura Kammin a unique opportunity to talk with students before they begin their careers as veterinarians or veterinary technicians about the importance of properly disposing of unwanted medication.

"It's becoming a rarity for me to chat with a veterinarian who doesn't know about the environmental impacts of improper medicine disposal. So the next step for IISG is to make sure that students are also aware of the need for proper storage and disposal."

Many of the students were unfamiliar with the topic or the disposal options available in their communities. Laura introduced them to simple steps for managing pharmaceuticals in clinics and talked about how they can help spread the word about proper disposal to their future clients.

The event is one of several Laura has attended in the last few years to share resources and speak directly with veterinarians about pharmaceutical stewardship. It is all part of a partnership between IISG and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Since they joined forces in 2011, IISG and AVMA have developed brochures, public service announcements, and other materials for veterinaries to share with their clients.

Many of these materials have been tailored to small animal veterinarians–those who work with dogs, cats, and other household pets. Now, though, IISG and AVMA are turning their sights towards livestock and the vets who care for them. Antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals used to treat livestock have been found in waterways across the country. In fact, animal agriculture is often the primary contributor of pharmaceutical pollution in rural areas, and some of these chemicals have been linked to impaired development and reproduction in aquatic wildlife.

The transition to livestock pharmaceuticals took a big step forward during the conference thanks to an opportune meeting with Dan Walsh, a distance learning instructor at the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine. Laura and Dan traded resources that will help both programs strengthen their efforts to educate future vets and vet techs about the importance of proper medicine storage, use, and disposal.

Posted by Laura Kammin at 9:21 AM | Permalink | Categories: Workshops & Events | Leave a comment

What's new in personal care product legislation?

Last week, we showcased a few unwanted medicine laws passed last year and gave you a peek into what's on deck for this year. Along with these pharmaceutical bills, the federal government and a handful of states will also be considering new rules for the development, sale, and oversight of personal care products.

For example, Michigan lawmakers introduced a bill this fall that would amend the state Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act to include on ban on the sale of personal care products that contain plastic particles. The ban would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016. The amendment would also prohibit Michigan manufacturers from adding plastic particles to any personal care product. HB4994 is awaiting a vote in the House Committee on Regulatory Reform.

Here are some additional bills we are watching:

Federal: SB1009 and SB696 would put in place new safety standards and more rigorous testing requirements for chemicals like the ones found in some personal care products. The bills would modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.

HB1385 would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to allow the federal health agency to regulate cosmetics.

Massachusetts: H1990 would require manufacturers to disclose ingredients known to be carcinogenic or cause developmental problems and make safety and testing data public.

H2062 would require cosmetic manufacturers to report the use of any unsafe chemicals to the state public health department.

Minnesota: SB466 and HF605 would require manufacturers of children's products to disclose the use of harmful chemicals, amend the criteria for priority chemicals, and authorize the Pollution Control Agency to prohibit the sale of potentially harmful products.

SF1166 would ban the sale of products containing triclosan and similar antibacterial compounds.

New York: AB4765 would mirror the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013 and establish an authoritative body charged with identifying potentially cancerous or reproductively-toxic chemicals.

North Carolina: H848 would authorize a study on the impact of toxic chemicals on child health.

Vermont: H0308 would authorize the state Board of Health to investigate products containing cancer-causing or reproductively-toxic chemicals.

Posted by Anjanette Riley at 1:57 PM | Permalink | Categories: Legislation | Leave a comment