Nfld. & Labrador

What to do if you find dirty needles

Would you know what to do if you found used needles in your neighbourhood?

Household items can be used to dispose of used syringes

During a shoot for a CBC Investigates story, seven needles were discovered below Long's Hill in downtown St. John's. (John Pike/CBC)

Would you know what to do if you found used needles in your neighbourhood?

A CBC News Investigation this week found that the City of St. John's and the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District were quick to respond to calls of used needles.

But there are also steps you can take to safely dispose of them yourself.

How to safely clean up dirty needles

5 years ago
Duration 3:16
Gerard Yetman of the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador walks the CBC's Ariana Kelland through how to safely clean up used needles.

1. Container

If you can't find a standard hypodermic needle container, heavy-duty plastic household containers work as a safe alternative.

The container, like a plastic laundry detergent bottle, should be leak and puncture-resistant. Do not use pop bottles. Also, clearly indicate on the container that a used needle is inside.

2. Tongs

Workers who pick up used needles are equipped with a long reaching tool.

But the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador said barbecue or kitchen tongs can also be used as an alternative to pick up the needles.

Tongs like these are used by trained personnel — but kitchen tongs make a good alternative. (John Pike/CBC)

3. Gloves

Gloves should always be worn to protect against fluid contamination.

If you don't have tongs at your disposal, puncture-proof gloves can be used, according to the committee. The needle should be picked up in the centre, keeping your hands away from the tip. 

4. Disposal

And if you don't have tongs, puncture-proof gloves can also be used to pick up the needle, according to Gerard Yetman of the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador. (John Pike/CBC)

If you've placed the needles in a safe, hard plastic container that is clearly labelled, the container is safe to go in the garbage, according to Curb It St. John's.

The Safe Works Access Program in St. John's and Corner Brook also offer a pickup service. 

  • SWAP Corner Brook:  634-7927 (SWAP)
  • Swap St.  John's: 757-7927 (SWAP)

In a community news letter this month, the Town of Conception Bay South said it has noticed an increase in the number of hypodermic needles being incorrectly thrown away.

Residents of C.B.S. are asked to contact the town's enforcement unit.

  • Town enforcement: 709-834-6598
  • After hours: 709-834-6529

In St. John's, residents can report needle sightings to its 311 line. To ensure workers can find the needles, the directions should be specific and clear.