PEORIA --- The Medication Education Disposal Solutions (MEDS) Action Committee, a diverse collaborative of public and private organizations formed as a result of an Oct. 1, 2008 Summit Conference sponsored by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, will provide information to participants in the Clean Water Celebration in Peoria today.
With expected attendance of more than 3,000, including 2,000 central Illinois students, the Peoria event is the largest clean water celebration in the world.
The MEDS committee continues to provide educational materials and foster voluntary partnerships around Illinois to offer additional environmentally-responsible disposal alternatives for discarded medications and other pharmaceutical and personal-care products.
MEDS was launched during an Oct. 1, 2008, Summit Conference in Springfield sponsored by Illinois EPA in which more than 130 representatives of a variety of organizations, including environmental advocates, local government and law enforcement, health care providers, pharmacists and pharmaceutical manufacturers, and wastewater and drinking water systems, participated.
More than a year ago, IEPA launched a pilot project of partnering with local governments, law enforcement agencies and pharmacies to establish drop-off or take-back locations. Contractors paid by IEPA through a portion of the fees collected at landfills pick up the drugs for high-temperature destruction.
Since the summit conference, additional partnerships on both the municipal and county-wide level have resulted in more drop-off locations that have been added to the IEPA pilot program, with additional ones on the drawing boards. Currently there are more than 70 locations in 30 counties, typically through partnerships involving police departments, pharmacies and local governments and solid waste agencies. Illinois EPA is a national leader in not only sampling for an expansive range of chemicals from pharmaceuticals in water supplies, with its sampling protocols now being used as a national model, but with its education and collection programs.
In addition, the MEDS Action Committee has made available additional educational materials with the “don’t flush” message and website links for information on disposal alternatives and locations. The www.epa.state.il.us/medication-disposal web pages provide extensive information on sampling and analysis for pharmaceuticals and the results of the Oct. 1 Summit, as well as fact sheets, FAQs, colorful posters, and Public Service Announcement audio files available for downloading that discourage the traditional disposal for unused medications of flushing them down the toilet or sink and potentially causing trace amounts to eventually end up in water bodies and potentially harm aquatic life. The PSAs have been sent to all radio stations in Illinois.
The web site also includes a Speaker’s Bureau/Resource list of contacts who can help set up new collection and education programs. There are also links to pharmaceutical disposal information and research on the web sites of major participant organizations in MEDS, including p2d2, the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, and Prairie Rivers Network. Illinois-American Water Co. has also been an active partner, providing the booth space today in Peoria and also working with communities in its service territory to start up unused medication drop-off programs.
The p2d2 (pharmaceutical pill and drug disposal) program founded by Pontiac High School teachers Paul Ritter and Eric Bohm and their students has been a key partner in the MEDS Action Committee and has given a graphic “mascot” Phil Bottle Phil for use in the educational materials, as well as sponsoring workshops for municipalities and others on establishing their own drop-off locations, typically in secure locations like police stations.
The Illinois EPA web site (www.epa.state.il.us) also contains numerous searchable databases making it easy for consumers and the general public to access information on their local public drinking water supply. The “Environmental Facts Online” button link on the right side of the agency home page is an easy portal to the database menu, which includes Drinking Water Watch and Safe Drinking Water Information System that can be searched with as little information as the name of the water supply or community. The public can find such information as sources of water, sampling results for potential contaminants specified under the federal Clean Water Act and any violations of the Maximum Contaminant Level standards, enforcement actions, and copies of the annual Consumer Confidence Report for their system.