Friday, April 19, 2013
At a booth in the heart of the Student Health Fair held on April 17th at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, one important question could be heard throughout the day: If I shouldn't flush them down the toilet, what am I supposed to do with my unused medications?
IISG's Laura Kammin and Corrie Maxwell Layfield were onsite to answer that very question. During the one-day event, Laura and Corrie talked with more than 130 people about the health and environmental risks of pharmaceutical pollution and how they could safely dispose of their unwanted medicines. Visitors were also told about a nationwide medicine takeback event on April 27 where they could drop off human and pet medications at locations across Illinois.
Amid the buzz and bustle of the crowded fair, many students lingered at IISG's booth with more questions about research on the effects of pharmaceuticals in water and locations of permanent collection programs. Most were surprised to learn that pharmaceutical chemicals have been found in lakes and rivers and linked with changes in wildlife behavior and health. Those who had heard of the dangers of flushing unwanted medication were also surprised to hear that pills thrown in the trash could leach into ground water or find their way to wastewater treatment plants.
But despite how much they knew about proper pharmaceutical disposal when they stopped at the booth, many left promising not to flush or throw away their medication in the future.
Laura and Corrie also talked with university professors and fellow exhibitors interested in spreading the word about proper disposal. One professor wanted to incorporate pharmaceutical pollution into a class on environmental hazards. And exhibitors from health clinics and advocacy groups took IISG materials with information on collection programs and what to do when a program is not available to share with their patients and clients.
For more information about the Drug Enforcement Administration's National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 27 and a list of locations, visit www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback. For more information about permanent collection programs in the area, contact Laura Kammin.