The Thunder Bay Drug Strategy is offering a new kit that businesses and residents can use to safely clean up discarded needles found as the snow melts.

A public health nurse with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit said anyone spotting a needle can always call Superior Points — a harm reduction program with the unit — to come and take it away, but some people want to take action immediately.   

"I think it gives some people some autonomy, it makes you feel a little bit safer in your community,” Melissa Scott said, adding that she hopes the kits will also encourage people to learn more about the underlying issues surrounding drug use. 

Melissa Scott

Melissa Scott, public health nurse at the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, says she learned about the use of needle disposal kits from her colleagues at the Northwestern Health Unit, which serves Kenora, Dryden, Fort Frances and other communities west of Thunder Bay. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

The kit includes gloves, tongs, a hard plastic container and an information sheet.

Scott said business owners and community members can use the kit to clean up needles safely if they're comfortable doing so.

"The risk of an infection from a publicly discarded needle stick injury is very low.”

Superior Points outreach worker Rick Thompson said spring weather brings many calls from the public reporting discarded needles.

Rick Thompson

Superior Points outreach worker Rick Thompson says spring weather brings many calls from the public reporting discarded needles. (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

"We certainly do our best to get there as quickly as we can but, unfortunately, [if] we're ... tied up with something else ... [the kits provide] the option [for people] to deal with it themselves in a timely manner."

Thompson applauded the initiative.

"We were actually surprised we hadn't thought of this earlier, but [it’s] never too late for a good idea."

Needle disposal kits are available from the District Health Unit through the Superior Points program, AIDS Thunder Bay and Shelter House.

Easy Steps to Safe Needle Disposal

  • Use tongs or pliers to pick the needles up.
  • Store the needles in a hard plastic container with a lid, such as an empty peanut butter jar. Don't use a glass container, as it can break.
  • Mark the container with the word "needle."
  • Containers can be dropped off at AIDS Thunder Bay, Shelter House or TBDHU, or you can call Superior Points to have the container picked up.
  • Single needles can be dropped into any of the yellow metal disposal bins found in various locations throughout the City. For locations, visit TBDHU.com and click on sexual health, and then needle exchange.

Source: Thunder Bay Drug Strategy