Dose of Reality: Keeping Chemicals Out of Our Waterways
Return Unwanted Medicines - News

Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Educates Consumers on Proper Disposal of Unwanted Pharmaceuticals; April 30 is Take-Back Day Nationally


Helen Domske, New York Sea Grant, E:, P: 716-645-3610

Note: New flier is online (pdf

Buffalo, NY, April 28, 2011 - New York Sea Grant has partnered with the Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant programs to help consumers act to keep unwanted medications and chemicals out of the Great Lakes. Funding for the effort is through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In Fall 2010, the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network members undertook a ”Dose of Reality” education campaign targeted at keeping everyday-use chemicals out of waterways in the Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes are the source of drinking water for 42 million people in the U.S. and Canada. Water monitoring studies by the EPA and the U.S. Geologic Survey have found pharmaceuticals, including antidepressants and hormones, in the Great Lakes.

“Each day through improper disposal of pharmaceuticals and personal care products we add unwanted toxins to the finite system of freshwater that is the Great Lakes. This educational campaign is helping New Yorkers learn what they can do to reduce this troubling form of water pollution,” said New York Sea Grant Coastal Education Specialist Helen Domske, Buffalo, NY.

Domske is the author of the recently published four-page “Undo the Environmental Chemical Brew: Keep Unwanted Medications & Chemicals Out of the Great Lakes” primer on how Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products (PPCPs) enter the environment and what consumers can do to properly dispose of them (pdf).

“The critical take-home message is not to flush unwanted or unused medicines down the toilet or down the drain,” Domske said.

The project encourages consumers to watch local news sources for notices of pharmaceutical take-back events.

“If no take-back programs are available, do not put prescription medicines, over-the-counter medications or personal care products in the trash without some form of proper containment, such as mixed with kitty litter or coffee grounds and sealed in a sturdy container,” Domske said.

April 30, 2011 is the second "National Prescription Drug Take Back Day." Collection sites throughout New York State include most county sheriff’s offices, local police departments and some hospitals. You can find all collection sites nationwide on the federal Drug Enforcement Administration Web site (click here). Also, take-back events can be found on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Web site (click here).

New York Sea Grant has posted “Undo the Environmental Chemical Brew: Keep Unwanted Medications & Chemicals Out of the Great Lakes” and other resources for dealing with unwanted medicines, including a “Don’t Flush” educational poster and a how-to document for holding a successful pharmaceutical take-back event on its Return Unwanted Medicines Resources site (click here).

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a statewide network of integrated research, education, and extension services promoting the coastal economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness about the State's marine and Great Lakes resources, is currently in its 40th year of "Bringing Science to the Shore."  NYSG, one of 32 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is a cooperative program of the State University of New York and Cornell University.

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