Great Lakes Clean Water Org. sets its sights on Standish


STANDISH — The non-profit group Great Lakes Clean Water (GLCW) wrapped up its Yellow Jug Old Drugs pilot program in August, and now it’s hoping to expand its operation to include Standish pharmacies.

Yellow Jug Old Drugs, according to GLCW member Chris Angel, offers individuals an alternative way to dispose of their pills and unused drugs, by dropping them in a yellow jug in participating pharmacies. Angel said this keeps the medications out of sewers and ground water; and landfills – ultimately keeping the chemicals contained in the drugs out of the Great Lakes.

“If you’re in a city that has a city water supply, the water of course gets treated. … But a trace amount of chemicals are still in there,” Angel said, adding the chemicals also survive in rural areas where wells are more prevalent. “That water eventually makes its way through the ground water to a larger body of water.”

He said studies are showing more and more chemicals in the Great Lakes, and he said studies are also showing more people are on some sort of medication now, which raises the risk of unused drugs getting flushed down the toilet or washed down the sink into the water system. And the side affects of exposure are unknown.

“The scientists that have studied it really don’t know what the effect will be of these chemicals on the environment, or on our bodies if we drink them long term,” Angel said. “We’re not alarmists, it’s just a proactive approach.”

Rather than continuously adding chemicals to water systems and the Great Lakes, Angel said the GLCW disposes of the drugs in a more environmentally conscious way.

“The jugs are picked up at the pharmacies every other month and taken to places for high-pressure incineration,” he said.

Currently, the Yellow Jug Old Drugs program is carried in 14 pharmacies near Lake Huron, including pharmacies in Roscommon, West Branch and Tawas.

“We haven’t contacted a Standish pharmacy yet, but we’ll probably do that over the next couple weeks,” he said, adding there is also a second benefit, besides the environmental one. “You’re also getting the unwanted, unused drugs out of your medicine cabinet, so they don’t get into the hands of someone you don’t want them to.”

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