4/23/13

IISG staff share proper pharmaceutical disposal info at U of I health fair

IISG science writer Anjanette Riley was in attendance at the University of Illinois' Student Health Fair April 17 and sent in this post about the event. 
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At a booth in the heart of the Student Health Fair held yesterday 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 there to communicate the importance of properly disposing of medicines. During the one-day event, Laura and Corrie talked with more than 130 people about the health and environmental risks posed by pharmaceutical pollution and how they could safely dispose of unwanted medicines. Visitors were also told about the nationwide medicine takeback event coming up on April 27 where they could drop off human and pet medications at locations throughout Illinois. 

Amid the buzz and bustle of the crowded fair, many students lingered at IISG’s booth with additional 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 not to flush or throw away their medication in the future. 

“People get the “Don’t Flush” message,” said Kammin. “But it isn’t common knowledge yet that putting our unwanted meds in the trash just delays their trip to local water supplies. These students really got that message.”

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. 

Learn more about properly disposing of unwanted medicines at our UnwantedMeds.org site, and for more information about the Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 27 including a list of locations, visit the DEA event website.

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