Today, Illinois American Water Company is encouraging its customers and community residents to participate in the Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. IAWC spokesperson Karen Cotton cited P2D2, the prescription drug disposal program created by Pontiac Township High School teacher Paul Ritter, as being the basis for the day. Ritter, in return, praised IAWC for taking a commitment to clean water seriously.
    From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at participating locations, residents are encouraged to drop off their unwanted medications at approved collection sites so they can be incinerated, which is the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended approach for pharmaceutical disposal. Both flushing medications down the toilet and throwing them in the trash are discouraged.
    Collection sites participating in this event can be located by visiting www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html.
    Though Pontiac does not have any collection sites for this program, Ritter said that practically every day of the year was its own Prescription Drug Take Back Day in Pontiac, given the local P2D2 drug disposal drop boxes at the Pontiac Police and Illinois State Police stations.
    “The pharmaceutical disposal programs were created through a model developed by Pontiac High School Township students and their teacher Paul Ritter,” Cotton noted. “The program, P2D2, has been recognized as a model for all pharmaceutical disposal programs. Through P2D2’s efforts, millions of pounds of unwanted medications have been collected and disposed of properly.”
    “This event is a great opportunity for residents to securely drop off any unused or expired medications,” IAWC President Bruce Hauk added. “It’s important for us to keep these items out of our landfills and water supplies as well as the hands of those who may misuse or abuse them.
    “We encourage those who cannot participate during this DEA event to continue to use their community pharmaceutical disposal programs to properly dispose of their unwanted medications. Through all of these efforts we can protect not only our water but our community as a whole.”
    Ritter said that the work done by IAWC was “invaluable” in its commitment to keeping the water supply safe.
    “Having a company be a champion of clean water, and making certain that pharmaceuticals are properly disposed of by establishing take back boxes in the communities that they're a part of, speaks volumes about them as a company,” he said.
    Ritter stressed the importance of having clean water as being beneficial not only to humans, but to the flora and fauna as well.
    “Modern medicine is a wonderful thing, and we're not bashing pharmaceuticals at all, because they're a quality of life thing,” he said. “What we're saying is that we need to be more responsible with the technology of medication, and that if it's not being used or if it's expired, there are ways of disposing of it other than flushing it down the toilet.”
    Ritter called the proper disposal paradigm that P2D2 has become a “true team effort” between PTHS, IAWC, the PPD and those who now follow similar programs. He also cited it as an example of “solving global problems locally.”
    Cotton noted that, in addition to the drop off points in Pontiac, IAWC has helped to implement 37 permanent pharmaceutical disposal programs across the state.