2/26/10

LaSalle County leads the way in drop off sites for unwanted medicine

In Peru, Illinois, a prescription drug drop-box is now available to the public in the lobby of the police station. There, people can drop off unused and unwanted prescription medication. The box is part of the La Salle County’s Prescription Drug Disposal Program, also known as P2D2.

Drop off boxes are also on-site at state police headquarters in La Salle and at the Ottawa police station. In the last three months, 93 pounds of medicine were brought to the Ottawa police station. Since it was installed in May 2009, 262 pounds of medicine have been collected. So far, the total weight of drugs collected throughout the county is 475 pounds, according to Jennifer Sines, Illinois Valley Community Hospital pharmacist and organizer of the program.

Later this month boxes will be placed at police departments in both Mendota and Streator, and eventually at police departments in Oglesby and Marseilles. Drop boxes also are available at many pharmacies and hospitals.

Sines added that in addition to medicines, prescription vials can be dropped off as well. They are sent to a free AIDS clinic in Africa

The goal of P2D2 is to prevent old or unused drugs from ending up in the wrong hands, in the waste stream or in local wasterways. Prescription drugs can also be a target of thieves or other family members. The program began in Pontiac and has now spread to several counties in Illinois. Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant provided the funding for the Peru drop-off box.

Pictured above, left to right: Deb Parisot, LaSalle-Peru Area Career Center graphic arts teacher; Lucas Leonatti, LaSalle-Peru Area Career Center student; Deputy Chief Bob Pyszka, Peru Police Department; Senator Gary Dahl; Peru Mayor Scott Harl; and Jennifer Sines, Illinois Valley Community Hospital pharmacist.

2/24/10

Pharmacists help “flush away” improper medication disposal

By now many people know that flushing medication down the toilet is harmful to the environment. However, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant (IISG) is trying to reduce the potential for improper disposal before drugs reach the medicine cabinet.

IISG, in conjunction with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), introduced pharmacists and hospital workers to the discussion at a recent workshop — Collection of Unwanted Medicines in Indiana. According to Elizabeth Hinchey Malloy, IISG Great Lakes ecosystem extension specialist, past workshops featured primarily waste managers, who “deal with the problems created by improper medication disposal.” She said that including pharmacists and hospital workers in the process will help prevent unsafe disposal earlier on.

“We’re trying to reach the frontline of the problem,” said IISG Coastal Sediment Specialist Susan Boehme, who worked alongside Hinchey Malloy at the workshop. “Pharmacists and hospitals are the ones actually handing medicine out, and they want to know how they can help.”

Recent estimates report that up to 40 percent of prescription medication is never used by the patient. Furthermore, according to a survey published in 1996 in Veterinary & Human Toxicology, only five percent of pharmacies had “regular recommendations” for customer medicine disposal.

"Dispensing of unnecessary quantities of medications can be a problem,” said Steve Cummings, director of pharmacy services at Marsh Drugs and a workshop attendee. “Patients should ask their doctor or pharmacist if a small starter quantity is available if the medication is new and the potential for side effects is real. If the therapy doesn't work out, dollars have been saved by the patient, and unused, unwanted medication has been eliminated from the home.”

Although education is a major component of preventing unnecessary medication disposal, the goal of the workshop was to move beyond awareness-building. “Our audience knew the issues,” said Hinchey Malloy. “They were there because they wanted solutions.” Among the 117 attendees, the workshop featured solid waste managers, wastewater treatment managers, pharmacists, hospice nurses and administrators, recycling educators, community leaders, law enforcement agents, and even a research student.

According to Hinchey Malloy, the workshop provided a forum for the many different players to address questions, such as what can and cannot be dropped off in collection programs, how to get funding, and what the laws are on medication disposal. The workshop also featured several speakers, who have run or are running successful medication collection programs.

Every participant received an IISG toolkit, Disposal of Unwanted Medicines: A Resource for Action in Your Community, which contains the necessary information for a community to start up a collection program. This includes case studies, outreach material, literature on the subject, legislation, and information on international donation.

IISG’s follow-up efforts primarily consist of offering information and resources when needed. For instance, IISG plans to purchase the first two drop boxes for a state-wide effort, led by the Indiana Prosecutor’s Office, to collect unused medication at police stations in Indiana. Police station collections allow people to drop off controlled substances, which would otherwise involve complex legal issues.

Some pharmacies are also providing drop off sites. Next month—March 13 and 14—Marsh Pharmacies will be holding a statewide medication collection at their 41 locations.

Boehme pointed to the recent creation of the Indiana Medication Disposal Task Force, which consists of members of various fields connected to medication disposal, as an important response to the workshop. The purpose of the task force is to get representatives from all sides of the issue to work together to find answers to the problem.

“I think the task force is a really key piece to the solution,” Boehme said. “Anytime IDEM gets new programs off the ground on this issue, they have a panel of experts ready to help them.”

The workshop was also sponsored by the Indiana Board of Pharmacy, the Indiana Pharmacists Alliance, the Indiana Household Hazardous Waste Task Force, and Eli Lilly.

2/23/10

Local Decision Maker wins GIS award

Local Decision Maker (LDM), an online program to help communities as they go through the comprehensive land use process, has won the Indiana Geographic Information Council (IGIC) 2010 GIS Award in the educational or nonprofit category.

LDM is a GIS-based web site that is rich with research data on environmentally sensitive areas, open space, streams and rivers, potential sources of contamination, and endangered species. When local planners strive to balance growth with natural resources, LDM provides the tools necessary to make informed choices. Plus, the site goes beyond natural resources to include critical information on economic development, labor markets, and schools.

Land use planners can go to the site, and within a few clicks, find up-to-date information specific to their community. They can view multiple maps of information at the same time, such as contaminated sites and environmentally sensitive areas, to see where potential problems or opportunities exist. And they can compare their community with neighboring communities or the larger county or state.

IGIC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to lead the effective application of geographic information in Indiana. Membership includes individuals from all levels of government, private industry, educational institutions and other nonprofit groups. The LDM team receives their award today at the IGIC conference luncheon in Bloomington, Indiana.

2/22/10

Stop those Asian Carp! at Chicago River Student Congress

Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant took part in the 13th annual Chicago River Student Congress on Saturday, February 20 at Amundsen High School in Chicago. This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Chicago River. IISG specialists engaged 75 high school and middle school students from around the city in hands-on learning about Asian carp.

Through the game, Stop those Asian Carp!, students learned characteristics of Asian carp, the potential threat they pose to the ecosystem of Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes, and what can be done about it.

2/19/10

In the news: EPA Gets an Earful Over Asian Carp Plans

From Circle of Blue Water News:
Federal officials who are protecting the Great Lakes against Asian carp unveiled their multi-pronged plan during a public hearing in Chicago on Friday.

The representatives planned on using the forum to get immediate feedback on their proposed solution.

What they got was a sharply divided range of opinions and raw emotions from the standing-room only crowd. Dozens of Chicago-area business owners and boat captains made emotional comments in anger over the mere possibility of closing the locks on a part-time basis. Meanwhile, other people in attendance called for the locks to be closed immediately, rather than wait several months to conduct a study called for by the plan. Read more.

2/17/10

Growing pains: new publication promotes re-thinking community development

Since World War II, urban growth has increasingly contributed to a handful of social and environmental problems, such as rising emissions of greenhouse gasses, increased obesity, and decreased personal communication and connection in communities. However, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s Planning with POWER Project’s latest publication, Sustainable Land Use: Impact on Climate Change and Health, argues that a new kind of land use—smart growth—is a potential solution to these problems in communities across the country.

The six-page report describes the features and impacts of smart growth, which seeks to re-integrate different land use developments. Such neighborhoods are designed to have shops, offices, schools, churches, parks, and other community amenities near homes, so that residents and visitors have options of walking, bicycling, taking public transportation, or driving. Neighborhoods that offer alternatives to driving will reduce carbon dioxide emissions caused by cars while encouraging healthier modes of transportation.

The report also provides a study-based foundation for the complications created by current development and the demographic changes that make smart growth necessary.

Planning with POWER seeks to inform citizens so that they can get involved and influence land-use decision makers in their communities. For more information or to download the publication, visit www.planningwithpower.org or contact Robert McCormick.

2/16/10

In the news: Federal carp control strategy is widely criticized

From the Michigan Messenger:
A $78.5 million dollar federal plan to keep Asian carp from becoming established in the Great Lakes is drawing criticism from diverse groups that say the proposed temporary closure of the locks in Chicago area canals will disrupt the economy without stopping the spread of aquatic invaders.

The Chicago canal system that connects the Mississippi River system to the Great Lakes basin conveys much of the Chicago region’s petroleum, coal, road salt, cement, and iron, according to federal officials, along with 15,000 recreational boats and 900,000 passengers that travel through the locks on the system each year.

The canal system is also thought to be the route through which Asian Carp could enter — or perhaps already has entered — Lake Michigan.

Asian carp have been designated a nuisance fish by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service because they can out compete other fish and dominate ecosystems. The Bighead carp can grow to 100lbs, and the Silverhead carp has been called a “live missile“ because it can jump several feet out of the water and has caused injuries to boaters. Many worry that these Asian carp, which have no natural predators in this region, could destroy Great Lakes fisheries and recreational boating if they become established in the lakes.

The draft Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework, released last week, includes short and long term action items that range from fish herding and poisoning to construction of new barriers, changes to the operations of the Chicago Sanitary and Shipping Canal and long term studies on the movement of invasive species between waterways.

At a hearing on this framework, convened last Friday by the EPA Office of the Great Lakes in Chicago, it became quickly apparent that the locks are the flashpoint in the growing national debate over how to respond to Asian carp. Read more.

2/10/10

Do your part to stop Asian carp--here's how to clean your catch

One way to do your part to help stop the spread of Asian carp into new lakes and streams is to catch and eat them. Bighead and silver carp have excellent quality flesh, similar to cod, but they have bones in their filets, which create problems when eating the fish.

Here is a link to part one of a three-part video on YouTube demonstrating how to clean Asian carp. This video is a joint project of U.S. Geological Survey, Louisiana Sea Grant, LSU AgCenter, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (Duane Chapman --who is on camera--is with USGS; LSU produced the video, IISG wrote the script and is funding the printing and distribution of the DVDs.)

IDEM, Marsh Pharmacies partner to collect unwanted medicine

Next month, Hoosiers will have the opportunity to dispose of unwanted medications in a safe and environmentally-friendly manner in a program presented by Marsh Pharmacies. Sponsors include the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), the Indiana Poison Center, CLS/Med-Turn and Statewide Medical Services.

Marsh Pharmacies will accept unwanted pharmaceuticals at their 41 locations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 13, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 14. To be accepted, all items must be fully identifiable and in their original containers.

The specific types of pharmaceuticals that will be accepted include:
• Prescription medications
• Over-the-counter medications
• Vitamins and nutritional supplements
• Veterinary medications
• Sharps or needles (in resealable hard, plastic containers)

The following items will not be accepted:
• Controlled substances
• Hazardous, poisonous or toxic substances
• Flammable liquids containing alcohol
• Mixed medications or medications in alternate containers
• Medical or household chemicals
• Inhalers
• Business waste

"Wastewater facilities are not designed to remove pharmaceutical products if they are poured down a drain," said IDEM commissioner Thomas Easterly. "The chemicals will be discharged, untreated, into lakes or streams. This special collection gives Hoosiers the opportunity to properly dispose of expired or unwanted over-the-counter and prescription medications."

Throwing pharmaceuticals in the garbage also poses a hazard because pets and children can be poisoned as a result of accidental ingestion. In addition, patient information displayed on discarded containers increases the risk for identity theft. Therefore, when turning in prescription bottles, the name of the medication must be visible on the label but personal information, such as name, address and account number, should be marked out.

IDEM first participated in the disposal event in the spring of 2008, and 334 customers brought in 3,543 prescription bottles. One year later, during the spring of 2009, the number of participants increased to 1,023 and the number of prescription bottles collected increased to 14,685.

In the fall of 2008, 7,218 customers brought in 478 prescription bottles. One year later, during the fall of 2009, the number of participants increased to 597 and the number of prescription bottles collected increased to 8,356.

To locate a Marsh Pharmacy location, visit www.marsh.net. Additional information about pharmaceutical and household hazardous waste disposal can be found on IDEM’s recycling website.

2/8/10

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco Unveil Landmark Climate.Gov Portal to Climate Information

From NOAA:
In a press conference earlier today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco unveiled a new Web site that will serve as a single point-of-entry for NOAA’s climate information, data, products and services. This climate portal will provide information about the impacts of climate on nearly every aspect of our lives from agriculture and energy to transportation.

“More and more individuals – community planners, farmers, public health officials and small business owners – are seeking reliable, user-friendly climate data and information,” said Lubchenco. “We envision this climate portal as the first step toward making the wealth of climate information at NOAA available in one easy-to-use resource.”

The site is designed to be adaptable and to respond to changes in users’ needs. Users are encouraged to offer comments and feedback; web designers will continue to update the site based on that feedback.

Known as the NOAA Climate Service Portal, the site is designed to address the needs of five broadly-defined user groups: decision makers and policy leaders, scientists and applications-oriented data users, educators, business users, and the public. Read more.

In the news: Asian carp discussion moves to Washington

From the Chicago Tribune:
Midwest governors are scheduled to visit the White House today to meet with top presidential environmental adviser Nancy Sutley on how to keep Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will participate but not in person because of the snowstorm that has made travel to Washington difficult. He will participate by phone. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle are still expected to be there.

A "framework" agreement is expected to be released at 2 p.m. Chicago time. The summit takes place behind closed doors, but the governors in Washington will hold a press conference afterward. Read more.

2/5/10

New grant supports aquaculture farmer workshops

IISG’s aquaculture marketing specialist Kwamena Quagrainie was awarded $70,000 from the USDA to inform Indiana aquaculture farmers on practices that minimize risk in fish production. Three state-wide workshops will provide critical information to farmers using these aquaculture methods: indoor re-circulating system production, cage production, and pond production. These workshops will take place in 2010. For more information contact Quagrainie.

2/4/10

Deadline approaching for fellowships

Time is running out for several graduate fellowships offered through Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant.

The Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship offers highly-qualified graduate students the opportunity to protect ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources through national policy development. Fellows will spend a year in Washington D.C. working as either a legislative aid or in an executive branch agency. Please e-mail your application by February 19, 2010 in Word format, to Lisa Merrifield at lmorrisn@illinois.edu. Contact Lisa if you have any questions.

Also, the National Marine Fisheries Service is offering two-year fellowships in population dynamics and marine resource economics. Applications are due February 12. Find the Request for Proposals here.

2/3/10

NOAA’s Sea Grant Awards Eight ‘Climate Engagement’ Mini-Grants

Coastal residents, businesses and decision-makers around the country will consider how their communities can adapt to climate change through eight newly awarded NOAA National Sea Grant College Program grants.

Each of these $25,000 climate engagement mini-grants will support projects focused on preparing for changing climate conditions. The projects will be led by principal investigators from local Sea Grant programs and NOAA Regional Collaboration Teams in eight regions including Alaska, the Pacific Islands and sections of the mainland United States.

“Since our Sea Grant researchers and extension agents serve the local coastal communities in which they live, Sea Grant is well-suited to connect NOAA science to the needs of local coastal communities,” said Leon Cammen, director of the NOAA National Sea Grant College Program. “Issues related to climate change are a Sea Grant priority.”

The mini-grants will fund projects in the following regions:

• Great Lakes – To create training modules to prepare leaders of coastal communities around the Great Lakes to develop climate adaptation plans necessary to keep their communities safe and productive into the next century. Principal investigators: Rochelle Sturtevant, Great Lakes regional Sea Grant extension educator of Michigan Sea Grant and Elizabeth Mountz, NOAA Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.

• Alaska – To produce a short video on the effects of climate change on Alaska and how Alaska marine-dependent communities can plan for adaptation. The video will be a focal point of community workshops around the state and will be shown on statewide television and on the internet. Principal investigators: Paula Cullenberg, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Amy Holman, NOAA Alaska regional coordinator.

• Central – To sponsor the Native Peoples and Native Homelands II Workshop to give NOAA and Sea Grant opportunity to engage Native American, Alaskan and Hawaiian people on climate variability and impacts on tribal communities. Principal investigators: Bethany Hale, NOAA Central regional coordinator and Penelope Dalton, Washington Sea Grant at the University of Washington.

• Gulf of Mexico– To present a week-long training session for local government, Sea Grant and NOAA staff on how local communities can adapt to impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, increased flooding and more extreme weather events. Following the workshop, participants will be able to continue collaborations through a discussion forum on the NOAA Coastal Storms web site. Principal investigators: Buck Sutter, NOAA Gulf of Mexico regional Team leader; Karl Havens, Florida Sea Grant College Program at the University of Florida; and LaDon Swann, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.

• North Atlantic – To establish a regional network of “climate ambassadors” through training for staff of NOAA’s North Atlantic Regional Team and Sea Grant extension agents. Sessions will cover the latest science as well as climate information and tools available from NOAA. The initial trainees will hold local training sessions in their home states. Principal investigators: Peyton Robertson, NOAA North Atlantic Regional Team leader and Sylvain De Guise, Connecticut Sea Grant College Program at the University of Connecticut.

• Pacific Islands – To prepare a Pacific Climate Change Impacts Resources Guide. Funding supports production of two stand-alone chapters of the guide planned for educators. The guide is for use in a larger effort of climate outreach and education activities. Principal investigators: Darren Okimoto, University of Hawaii Sea Grant; Eileen Shea and Lynn Nakagawa, NOAA Integrated Data and Environmental Applications Center/Pacific; and James Weyman, NOAA National Weather Service Climate Information System.

• Southeast and Caribbean – To establish a regional network of climate extension and outreach professionals and strengthen the network’s ability to provide information, tools, and assistance related to climate change impacts and adaptation. This project will bring extension and outreach personnel together to share information and will maintain a network for on-going communication. Principal investigators: Charles Hopkinson, Georgia Sea Grant Program at the University of Georgia; Jessica Whitehead, South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium; Stephanie Fauver, NOAA Coastal Services Center in Charleston, South Carolina; and Geno Olmi, NOAA Southeast and Caribbean regional coordinator.

• Western – To present a workshop to engage recreational fishers, resource managers, scientists, and environmentalists in assessing and planning for climate change impacts on West Coast fisheries. The workshop will be the first step toward implementing a climate change plan for west coast fisheries. Principal investigators: John Stein, NOAA Western Regional Team leader and Penelope Dalton, Washington Sea Grant at the University of Washington.

The Climate Engagement Mini-Grant Program is modeled after the NOAA Stakeholder Engagement Mini-Grant program, which distributed grants in 2009 to fund regional pilot projects engaging communities in issues of interest to both NOAA and local residents. The goal of the new program is to leverage NOAA and Sea Grant resources to help coastal communities adapt to climate change.

Sea Grant is a nationwide network of 32 university-based programs that work with coastal communities. The National Sea Grant College Program engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training, and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.

2/1/10

Nab the Aquatic Invader! Now featured at the Smithsonian!


As of February 1, Nab the Aquatic Invader! is featured at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History as part of the Ocean Today Kiosk in the Sant Ocean Hall. It will also be on display at Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers throughout the country.

This educational web site about aquatic invasive species (AIS) was created by Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant along with Sea Grant programs in New York, Louisiana, Connecticut, and Oregon to provide the latest information about AIS through colorful characters and a crime-solving theme. Since its inception, the project has expanded to include species from coastal regions around the country.

“In addition to being clever and fun, the site is rich with curriculum for teachers, ideas for stewardship projects, and creative educational activities for students and other online audiences," said Robin Goettel, IISG associate director for education.

The Ocean Today Kiosk, developed by NOAA in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution , presents news, video stories and in this case, interactive pages that highlight some of the most interesting, surprising, and pressing issues facing our ocean today. Through a large touch-screen interface, kiosk visitors are offered a variety of information about ocean life, current science and technology, and recent discoveries. The kiosk also features a 'current news' section, presenting users with near real-time data about ocean and weather conditions around the U.S.

The Nab the Aquatic Invader! feature will focus on the suspects--aka the invasive species--in four regions of the country: Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf, and Great Lakes. In each region, visitors can see read interrogation interviews with the 10 Most Wanted AIS and learn their origin, problems they cause, and some control methods used to slow the spread of these species.

“The Ocean Today Kiosk team is excited to partner with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant to turn content from the Nab the Aquatic Invader web site into an interactive feature,” said Katie Snider, kiosk executive producer at NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “The Ocean Today Kiosk was designed to educate the public on fundamental ocean literacy concepts. There's no better way to teach kids (and big kids!) about invasive species than by letting them "touch screen" their way through the crimes and profiles of invasive "suspects" around the country.”

In addition to the Sant Ocean Hall, Ocean Today Kiosks will be located at a growing network of aquariums across the nation through the Coastal America's Ecosystem Learning Centers, including one already installed at the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. This partnership will ultimately provide opportunities for 20 to 30 million people to engage with Nab the Aquatic Invader! and many more ocean resources.

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