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updated: 2/24/2011 4:20 PM

Antioch students help residents discard old pharmaceuticals, safely

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By C.L. Waller

Students at Antioch Community High School are taking the lead in a program to help eliminate discarded pharmaceuticals from rivers and streams in the United States.

The prescription pill and drug disposal program called P²D², started by a girl in downstate Pontiac, IL, is an effort to stop people from flushing their old or unwanted prescription pills down the toilet. A local businessman presented the concept to students at Antioch High School as a project and Environmental Club members are running with the idea, calling it "Go Blue with P²D²."

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Students presented their plan on Thursday to the Antioch-Lake Villa High School District 117 school board at Lakes Community High School in Lake Villa.

"Our plan is launch this for the school and the district," said Stephen Rose, social studies teacher and adviser to the Environmental Club at Antioch High School.

Representing the club, student member Michael Hall said 80 percent of the waterways tested in this country are found to have traces of antihistamines, antibiotics and sex hormones. He said fish are mutating and some male fish in Lake Michigan are laying eggs after being exposed to pharmaceuticals that make their way from toilets and through sewer systems that lack enough filtration to prevent the medication from affecting the waterways.

"In today's society there are so many medications," he said. It's affecting the fish and marine life."

Students have enlisted the help of the Antioch, Lindenhurst and Lake Villa police departments to provide a secure postal-style drop box at the stations where residents can drop off their pills, no questions asked. Hall said the pills are secured by the police department evidence officer and incinerated by a service provider. The incineration method, he said, is a "green" disposal because the intensity of the heat is so high it does not emit toxins into the air.

Students hope to have a drop box available at the Antioch police station in a couple of weeks and the club is also contacting local pharmacies about being part of the effort. They also mentioned that Highland Park High School started a program and collected about 250 pounds of medicines in a month.

For more information about the program, go to www.p2d2.org.

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