Dose of Reality: Keeping Chemicals Out of Our Waterways

Contact:

Helen Domske, Coastal Education Specialist, hmd4@cornell.edu, 716.645.3610

Buffalo, NY, November 05, 2010 - Recent research by the U.S. Geological Survey and other scientists show that toxins found in pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) are accumulating in our waterways with negative effects on wildlife. In addition, according to reports following a 2008 Associated Press investigation, these toxins are also in the drinking water for millions of Americans.

In response, Sea Grant programs in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and Illinois and Indiana are educating people about the problems associated with pharmaceuticals and personal care products. In Fall 2010, these Great Lakes Sea Grant program began distributing a 12-page educational publication, "Dose of Reality: Remedies to keep everyday chemicals out of waterways."

"It's clear that we need to educate the masses to have a positive impact on this very serious issue," says New York Sea Grant Coastal Education Specialst Helen Domske, a partner on the project.

The publication, written by Pennsylvania Sea Grant Communications and Education Specialist Anna McCartney, was included in several newspapers, including the Erie Times-News and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and is also being circulated in New York, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. As part of the campaign, over 139,000 hard copies were produced and distributed. A four-page fact sheet highlighting some of the key points of the publication will be available by early 2011. And, in Fall 2012, the full publication will be updated and reprinted to reinforce the continued importance of the campaign.

"Our response to the publication has been phenomenal," says McCartney. "High school and college educators have been asking for copies to use with their students. Readers have been writing letters to the editor about the problems and we have gotten requests for more information."

This publication is just one part of this important education and outreach project funded by a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant to work with middle school, high school and undergraduate students, the public, and professional groups to encourage participation and to find solutions before these problems worsen. GLRI, part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, targets the most significant problems in the region, including invasive aquatic species, non-point source pollution, and contaminated sediment.

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