Friday, May 31, 2013
Central Illinois' newest permanent medicine collection program is starting strong. In its first week, the Champaign-Urbana Area Medicine Take-back Program has collected approximately 150 pounds of unwanted medicine for safe disposal.
The program's success began early in the morning on May 24, when area residents brought bottles and bags of pharmaceuticals to police stations in Champaign and Urbana. After just a few hours, the program had collected so many prescription and over-the-counter medications that officers at the Champaign Police Department had to empty the collection box that now permanently resides in the lobby. And they went on to empty it five more times that day.
Several of the people who came by said they had been holding onto their medications and waiting for an opportunity to dispose of them properly. They told reporters that they wanted to keep the pills away from their children and grandchildren, but knew that throwing them in the trash or flushing them down the toilet could contaminate local waterways and negatively impact aquatic wildlife.
"There is a need out there for programs like this. We get a lot of calls from people who want to do the right thing and dispose of their pharmaceuticals safely," said Julie Pryde, administrator for the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District. "And the good thing about this program is that it is free and accessible all the time."
Permanent programs are an important way to limit the threat pharmaceutical chemicals pose to aquatic environments. These chemicals have been found in surface, ground, and drinking water throughout the U.S. and have been shown to impair the development, behavior, and reproduction of fish and other aquatic wildlife. Making it easy for people to rid their homes of unused medication can also protect children and pets from accidental poisonings and reduce prescription or over-the-counter drug abuse.
"[The program] is a big step forward," said Robert Hirschfeld, water policy specialist for Prairie Rivers Network. "There is more to do, but this is a good start."
The C-U Area Medicine Take-back Program is sponsored by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, the cities of Champaign and Urbana, and other community and regional partners. Visit illinoishomepage.net/p2d2 to learn more about the program and its role in protecting environmental and public health.
Communities interested in starting their own collection programs can find how-to information here. Contact Laura Kammin at email@example.com or 217-333-1115 with questions or for additional support.