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Community/External Quality and Safety

Needle Safety

The map shows BOS:311 needle pick-up requests at the census tract level in the year 2018. Locations of safe needle/syringe disposal sites in Boston and the nearby cities are available. Public and non-public schools as well as parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields are displayed in the data map. The legend is based on Jenks natural breaks.

What are the implications for housing?

The number of BOS:311 needle pick-up request calls has been increasing over the past few years (from about 1,800 reports in 2016 to over 4,600 reports in 2018). It is a critical community safety issue particularly for children since they can be pricked by discarded needles in playgrounds, parks, near school during recess or on the sidewalk outside their home.

Read a story highlighting some of the reactions from students in Boston: here


The BPHC's guidelines for safe needle and syringe disposal provide three Q & A. 

What should I do with my used syringes? "Used syringes and other sharps should always be placed in a sharps container and disposed of safely – either at a drop-off site or in a mail-back program."

Can I put my used syringes in the trash? "No. Throwing syringes in the trash, recycling bin or disposing them anywhere that is not a safe needle disposal container is against the law and could lead to a fine."

What should I do if I find a needle on a public way? "If you find a needle on a sidewalk or other public way, please call 311. Provide the location of the needle(s) with as much detail as possible and the Mobile Sharps Team will locate and collect the waste."


Data source:

City of Boston (2019). Analyze Boston: 311 Service Requests. Retrieved from here

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