Pill Bottle Phil Spotted at Wisconsin Medicine Collection Event

"Pill bottle Phil" is hanging out with Jordyn Schara at a recent unwanted medicine collection event in Reedsburg, Wisconsin where 350 pounds of pills, IV needles, and mercury thermometers were collected. Schara, 15, is the Wisconsin Prescription Drug Disposal Program (P2D2) Coordinator and a key organizer of this event. With support from IISG, Reedsburg will soon have an ongoing collection program.

In the news: Which Fish to Eat? Study Finds Lower Mercury in Most Top-Selling Seafood

From Environmental News Network:
Experts send a mixed message to consumers when it comes to eating fish: it's good for your heart health but beware of the methylmercury. A new way of organizing and ranking the pollutant's levels in fish and shellfish may help consumers navigate this apparent contradiction, according to the study's author. Read more.


In the news: Bursting Chicago’s water bubble

From the Great Lakes Echo:
Let’s face it—Chicagoans are a little cocky about their water supply. Forget the arctic winters, the ceaseless traffic jams, the political corruption—Chicagoans’ access to clean, fresh water makes them proud to have chosen this particular locale to call home. They get self-righteous when talking with friends in Phoenix or Los Angeles. Who in their right mind would move to a desert, anyway? It’s just impractical.

But a growing number of city officials, urban planners and environmental experts warn of a massive schism between Chicagoans’ perception of water abundance and the reality—a future of water scarcity if they don‘t begin making radical changes in the way we collect, distribute and consume this vital resource. Read more.


IISG student awarded employee of the year runner up

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s Tracy Colin was named the University of Illinois Student Employee of the Year Runner Up. She has been an assistant for the communication and education components of the program for three years.

“During the time that she has worked in our program, Tracy has worked on a great variety of projects,” said Irene Miles, communication coordinator. “In every task that we assign, she asks intelligent questions to ensure that she will complete the job in a most efficient and effective manner. We are always impressed with Tracy’s attention to detail. She has also demonstrated a professional demeanor in her contact with people outside of our program, whether they be scientists, legislators, agency professionals, or the general public.”

As part of this honor, Colin was awarded a $200 scholarship and a $75 gift card to the University of Illinois Book Store. She will graduate this spring with a major in political science.


In the news: Lake levels expected to be down as much as 10 inches

From the Detroit Free Press:
After a dry winter, Michigan boaters can expect levels of most Great Lakes to be 5 to 8 inches lower this summer than last year. Some lakes were already lower last year than their long-term averages.

For boat owners, that means more shallow spots and docks further from the water, but for lakefront cottage owners, it means slightly bigger beaches. Read more.


Earth Day in Valparaiso

IISG's display Get Rid of Stuff Sensibly attracted many visitors at the Earth Day celebration at Sunset Hill Farm County Park in Valparaiso, Indiana on Saturday. Visitors learned some sensible ways to dispose of a variety of items, including medicine, aquarium fish, and electronic equipment.


Earth Day in Northwest Indiana

Come celebrate Earth Day in Valparaiso, Indiana on Saturday, April 17, 10:00 am-3:00 pm at Sunset Hill Farm County Park. This event is sponsored by the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County. IISG will be there with the display Getting Rid of Stuff Sensibly, which includes a game for kids and lots of information on how to dispose of unwanted items, including medicine.

From the RWRDPC website:
NWI Earth Day is a free event that will include a variety of exhibitors, children's activities, vendors, and family-focused demonstrations; all with one purpose in mind - to help Northwest Indiana residents live a 'greener' life. Other Earth Day activities include a family tent full of hands-on activities, alternative fuel vehicle displays, food, a silent auction and live music. So walk, bike, or carpool, and join us in celebrating the earth and all its precious resource.


IISG’s Medicine Chest provides remedies for improper medication disposal

In most homes, children are kept out of medicine cabinets to protect them from the dangers of chemicals in medications. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s (IISG) latest product, The Medicine Chest, invites high school students to metaphorically open up those doors and investigate what makes those chemicals harmful to people, pets, and the environment when improperly disposed.

“The new curriculum collection gives educators an instructional tool to create an innovative service-learning experience for their students, while tackling an important environmental and human health concern,” said IISG Associate Director for Education Robin Goettel, who, along with Terri Hallesy, IISG education specialist, helped design this resource. “Through involvement in this project, students serve as agents for change, educating their communities about action steps they can take to reduce harm to aquatic ecosystems from improper disposal of unwanted medicines.”

This resource is one of a handful of measures IISG is taking in response to the growing problem of pharmaceuticals ending up in local waterways. For example, a 2008 Associate Press investigation found low levels of pharmaceuticals in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas.

When medicines expire, people often flush them down the toilet, but wastewater treatment plants are not designed to treat these chemicals. In addition to showing up in drinking water, medications can harm fish and aquatic wildlife. On the other hand, disposing of medicines in the trash can risk leakage from poorly-designed landfills.

One way the curriculum seeks to get students involved in their communities is through active involvement with the Prescription Pill and Drug Disposal Program (P2D2)—a multidisciplinary, service-learning approach to the issue of unsafe disposal. “The P2D2 Program was the impetus and serves as the centerpiece for this curriculum collection,” Goettel said.

Created by Pontiac High School ecology teacher Paul Ritter, the program encourages teachers from various subject to involve their students with this issue and provides lesson plans for environmental science, civics, music, art, language arts, and foreign language.

According to Goettel, a wide range of student projects—billboards, eco-poems, songs, collection boxes, artwork, and student presentations—have sparked community interest, understanding, and action. The P2D2 program also encourages and provides tips for building community partnerships, organizing festivals, and planning collection events.

Many of these projects are described in The Medicine Chest, which also provides useful supplemental resources, including science-based research, fact sheets, and classroom activities.

By rallying students for the cause, Goettel hopes to address another problem—prescription drug abuse. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, nearly one out of ten high school seniors admits to abusing powerful prescription painkillers and 40 percent of teens and an almost equal number of their parents [falsely] think abusing prescription painkillers is safer than abusing ‘street’ drugs.

“Through this multi-faceted, community-based service-learning program, youth will be empowered to take action that will serve as a catalyst to help reduce teenage drug abuse,” Goettel said. “The students have the capability to learn the content and put their knowledge into community action.”

For more information or to download The Medicine Chest, visit here. To obtain IISG’s unwanted medicine toolkit—Disposal of Unwanted Medicines: A Resource for Action in Your Community—which is designed to help communities establish collection events, visit here or here.



To learn about some Sea Grant efforts to address issues related to climate change, you can read and/or print this pdf. This publication describes projects around the country that inform policy and management, help communities prepare, or support economic resilience and opportunity.


In the news: Study puts cost of closing locks to keep out carp at $4.7B

From the Chicago Breaking News Center:
An economic impact study commissioned the by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce projects the cost of closing Chicago-area navigational locks to shipping could be as much as $4.7 billion over the next 20 years, an estimate far exceeding the one produced by two business consultants hired by Michigan's attorney general in February. Read more.


Get your new IISG catalog here

Whether you are a teacher, an angler, a fish farmer or just an interested individual, IISG has a new catalog that presents a wealth of opportunities to learn more about coastal issues in the southern Lake Michigan region.

The wide range of products offered through the new catalog encapsulates the extensive breadth of the program. The 60-plus products featured in it are separated into eight categories—including aquatic invasive species, education, aquaculture, and fish consumption—and can be useful for classroom instruction, self-education, background for related research and work, and/or spreading awareness of important issues. Each product is accompanied by a brief description.

If you would like a copy of the catalog, contact Susan White. You can also visit our Products page on our website.