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Re: E-M:/ Washtenaw Cty MI drug disposal program



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Enviro-Mich message from "Mary Charlotte Martin" <marti279@msu.edu>
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I think that there is definitely value to the collections such as those the Earth Keepers ran here in the U.P. The issue of pharmaceutical contamination in our waters may be familiar to those of us on this list serve, but the general public is likely not so well-informed. These collections have drawn public attention to the problem of improper disposal of drugs, and the accompanying literature participants receive will help them properly dispose of pharmaceuticals in the future. Old guidelines for drug disposal did suggest flushing them down the toilet, and that belief persists among many. Though I have not seen data that suggest what the actual percentages of excreted vs. flushed drugs in our waters may be, I think it is prudent to try to prevent ANY pharmaceuticals from reaching our water supply. The EPA has been funding drop-off programs for pharmaceuticals, electronics, and hazardous waste around the Great Lakes basin for the last few years. These programs serve to raise public awareness, and hence are vital to maintaining the health of aquatic systems.

Mary Martin




Anne Couture writes:


"And garbage dumps are lined, and the waters that leach out are treated to
remove harmful chemicals, Krcmarik said."
The point here seems to be that placing expired/unused pharmaceuticals in
the regular municipal waste stream (landfill, incineration) is the best
approach, after all. (It appears that's where it is going anyway after
"special collection".) Personally, I have never disposed of expired pharms
down the toilet, having lived in homes with septic tank/tile fields most of
my life, with a father who was a sanitarian.
No need to make this issue more complicated that it needs to be. Put the
unused drugs in the municipal solid waste stream. Most of the
pharmeceuticals found in our waste waters and receiving surface water bodies
are more likely from human excretion than from disposal of drugs down
toilets..
Anne Couture -----Original Message-----
From: owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
[mailto:owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net] On Behalf Of Mary Charlotte
Martin
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 4:47 PM
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Subject: Re: E-M:/ Washtenaw Cty MI drug disposal program
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Enviro-Mich message from "Mary Charlotte Martin" <marti279@msu.edu>
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To all --
For more information about the Earth Keepers, and their Pharmaceutical Drop-off Day, visit the Superior Watershed Partnership's website. You'll find some downloadable fact sheets, articles, and disposal guidelines here as well. http://www.superiorwatersheds.org/ Mary Martin John Rebers writes:
Ted -



Earthkeepers, a group that works in the Upper Peninsula, sponsored a
1-time collection of pharmaceuticals in the spring of 2006. They collected
quite a few drugs and helped raise awareness. I like the idea of getting
pharmacies involved, since that institutionalizes the solution for more than
a 1-time pickup.



One challenge with this type of collection is that some of the
pharmaceuticals are controlled substances, so both the state police and the
Drug Enforcement Agency have concerns about how collection is handled.



John Rebers



From: owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
[mailto:owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net] On Behalf Of rrrasoc@aol.com
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2008 11:30 AM
To: tschettler@igc.org; enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Subject: Re: E-M:/ Washtenaw Cty MI drug disposal program




Ted,



Many municipal household hazardous waste collection programs and municipal
departments of public works are actively involved in discouraging the
flushing or illicit disposal of expired pharmaceuticals, both OTC and
prescription, and are providing alternatives. However, I can't speak to
what pharmacies and hospitals are doing.

Mike


Michael J. Csapo
General Manager
Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County


www.rrrasoc.org

-----Original Message-----
From: Ted Schettler <tschettler@igc.org>
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Sent: Tue, 21 Oct 2008 11:22 am
Subject: E-M:/ Washtenaw Cty MI drug disposal program


------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enviro-Mich message from "Ted Schettler" <tschettler@igc.org> ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Are other counties, municipalities, pharmacies, or hospitals in Michigan
addressing this problem?
Ted Schettler =========== County fosters safer disposal of drugs Residents advised to take old medicine to certain pharmacies Monday, October 20, 2008 BY ART AISNERThe Ann Arbor News For decades, pharmacists and gov ernment officials recommended flushing expired or unneeded prescription medications down the toilet. But that practice is changing as more chemical compounds traced to medications are appearing in waterways locally and around the country. Washtenaw County has an aggressive prescription-drug disposal program that
is
rapidly expanding, officials said. Nine local pharmacies now have bins for customers to dispose of their
excess
prescriptions as part of a joint environmental protection effort between private businesses and multiple county departments. The county established
a
Web site - www.dontflushdrugs.com - about the initiative that also
features
guidelines for disposal and a 4-minute video. "It's a great program because it helps keep our environment safer,'' said
Dr.
Sahar Swidan, owner of Pharmacy Solutions in Scio Township. Pharmacy Solutions has filled five large containers since the start of September. "We've had to do some educating, but the scary stuff is that the
medications
end up in the environment and in our drinking water.'' Flushing or washing medications down the drain was the easiest and once thought to be the safest way to ensure excess pills wouldn't land in the wrong hands. Some federal agencies still recommend flushing prescription medicati on.
But
there's evidence that the direct contact with waterways - and septic
systems
ill-equipped to filter chemical compounds - leads to problems downstream. The U.S. Geological Survey in 2002 reported 80 percent of sampled
watersheds
nationally contained at least one pharmaceutical chemical; half of them contained seven or more. A 2004 study of the Huron River by the Ann Arbor Water Utilities
Department
found that nearly half of the 22 targeted chemical compounds were in water

samples. The Huron River is the primary source of Ann Arbor's drinking
water.
The compounds identified in the study included antibiotics, analgesics, stimulants and steroids. Few of those substances were found in treated drinking water. And there
are
no studies about the impact to local residents' health. But city and
county
officials fear that a prolonged contamination from pharmaceutical
chemicals
could harm wildlife and the ecosystem. "The cumulative effect of this continuing for years and years is an
unknown
risk, but any risk at all is too much when there is an alternative solution,'' said Jeff Krcmarik, supervisor of Washtenaw County's environmental programs. Instead of flushing, the county recommends sealing prescription bottles
with
duct tape, wrapping them in multiple plastic bags and then disposing of
them0
in the trash. Pharmacists can legally take back only certain medications and, at this point, most do not. Municipalities and other organizations that sponsor toxic-trash cleanup efforts don't accept the materials either, Krcmarik
said.
A medical waste collection company has been hired to handle the drugs collected through the local program and incinerate them. Both landfills and incinerators have their environmental drawbacks.
However,
intense heat nullifies the dangerous compounds in drugs. And garbage dumps

are lined, and the waters that leach out are treated to remove harmful chemicals, Krcmarik said. ============================================================== ENVIRO-MICH: Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action. Archives at http://www.great-lakes.net/lists/enviro-mich/ Postings to: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net For info, send email to majordomo@great-lakes.net with a one-line message body of "info
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==============================================================
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Postings to: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net For info, send email to
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attributed source and do not necessarily reflect those of GLIN or the Great
Lakes Commission.
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==============================================================
ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at
http://www.great-lakes.net/lists/enviro-mich/

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
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==============================================================
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
All views and opinions presented above are solely those of the author or
attributed source and do not necessarily reflect those of GLIN or the Great Lakes Commission.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *