ELCA NEWS SERVICE
April 2, 2007
Michigan Lutherans to Dispose of Hazardous Waste on Earth Day
MARQUETTE, Mich. (ELCA) -- For the third year in a row,
thousands of Lutherans will turn in hazardous waste during the
annual Earth Keeper Clean Sweep on Earth Day, April 22, at
collection sites across northern Michigan. This year the target
Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
will join an environmental army comprised of the vast majority of
Michigan's Upper Peninsula religious community, university
students, several environmental groups and an American Indian
Nearly 400 tons of hazardous waste has been turned in during
the past two clean sweeps, including 320 tons of old computers
and cells phones on Earth Day 2006.
The Rev. Thomas A. Skrenes, bishop of the ELCA Northern
Great Lakes Synod, Marquette, Mich., said, "Prescription drugs
keep people out of the hospital, help many to heal and are an
important part of our health care system."
"But like all good things, when they are abused or even just
thrown away they can do damage to people and nature," said
Skrenes, who leads more than 39,000 baptized Lutherans in 94
congregations across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and six
counties in northeastern Wisconsin.
The 2007 Pharmaceutical Clean Sweep is targeting out-of-date
and unwanted medications of all kinds, according to Carl
Lindquist, executive director of the Superior Watershed
The third annual clean sweep is sponsored by nine Upper
Peninsula faith communities with 130,000 members, the Central
Lake Superior Watershed Partnership, the Cedar Tree Institute,
and the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.
More than one-third of the ELCA Northern Great Lakes Synod
churches are participating in the clean sweep.
The synod also includes Finlandia University, Hancock,
Mich., Fortune Lake Lutheran Bible Camp, Crystal Falls, Mich.,
and Northland Lutheran Retirement Community in Marinette, WI.
Finlandia is one of 28 colleges and universities of the ELCA.
"We in the Upper Peninsula can protect our lakes and streams
with an ounce of prevention," Skrenes said. "The streams and
lakes demand our attention," he said.
"Earth Keepers is keeping the faith with God and with God's
creation," Skrenes said. "The Church of Jesus Christ is stepping
up to do its share with people of other faith communities to
preserve and protect this awesome Upper Peninsula."
The project involves more than 120 churches and temples
representing nine faith communities: Lutheran, Catholic,
Episcopal, Presbyterian, United Methodist, Unitarian
Universalist, Baha'i, Jewish and Zen Buddhist.
The leaders of all the faith communities and tribal
officials strongly support the clean sweep.
"God is at work in the beauty of our lakes and streams and
God is at work in the effort to preserve these waters by keeping
medications out of them," said Skrenes.
A pastor of the ELCA, the Rev. Jon W. Magnuson, Earth Keeper
Initiative founder and co-organizer of the clean sweeps, said
that combining religion and environmental protection is a perfect
"This will be another step of a deepening connection between
the traditions of faith and the critical challenges of the
environment," said Magnuson. "The clean sweep is one of many
signs of a new awakening, an historic shift of consciousness into
the mystery of God and a gentle love for the planet."
"This also has been a great witness to the secular community
that has dismissed religion as out of touch," said the Rev. Tari
K. Stage-Harvey, pastor at Zion Lutheran Church, St. Ignace and
Trinity Lutheran Church, Brevort, Mich. "Our communities of faith
when touched by the Spirit become powers that create amazing
Lutheran Earth Keeper team member Joy Ibsen, Trout Creek,
Mich., warned that "drugs have side effects that are very
dangerous if not properly understood and handled."
"Most of the environmental problems we have are side effects
of the way we live in today's highly technological, often toxic
and overly disposable world," Ibsen said.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said
trace amounts of pharmaceuticals are turning up in America's
drinking water because most treatment plants are not designed to
filter out these medications.
When pills or liquid medicines are poured down the sink or
flushed in the toilet they remain diluted in the water supply
after treatment, and these trace amounts are linked to health
problems, according to the EPA.
"As leftover and waste pharmaceuticals get flushed down
drains, research is showing that they are increasingly being
detected in our lakes and rivers at levels that could be causing
harm to the environment and ecosystem," said Elizabeth LaPlante,
senior manager for the EPA Great Lakes National Programs Office,
"Specifically, reproductive and development problems in
aquatic species, hormonal disruption and antibiotic resistance
are some concerns associated with pharmaceuticals in our
wastewater," LaPlante said.
"The Earth Keeper Pharmaceutical Collection event is an
excellent opportunity to prevent the introduction of these
chemicals into Lake Superior and other water bodies," said
National studies show 80 percent of the rivers sampled
tested positive for a range of pharmaceuticals including
antibiotics, birth control hormones, antidepressants, veterinary
drugs and other medications.
Pharmaceuticals in some rivers are linked to behavioral and
sexual mutations in species of fish, amphibians and birds, and
compounds called endocrine disruptors are the apparent cause of
neurological problems in children and increased incidence of some
cancers, according to EPA studies.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Posted by Gregory Jackson at 7:34 AM