London has a some challenges when it comes to drug use in public and it’s not uncommon for used needles to be found in public parks or on city streets.  The city has now installed eighteen stationary needle collection bins installed at strategic locations in downtown and priority areas to assist with the collection of discarded drug using equipment.  WHat’s so scary for parents and the public is that sharps can contain blood from other people and this blood can carry blood-borne infections like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV. HIV can live on a needle for up to several hours. Hepatitis B and C can live on a needle for  weeks.

What happens when you find a used needle on private property though?  Whose responsibility is it to ensure safe removal and disposal?   Here are the instructions from the Middlesex London Health Unit:



  • Use caution.  Treat all found needles and other sharps as contaminated.  Do not try to put the cap back on a needle.
  • If you do not have a specialized sharps disposal container, you will need a non-breakable, puncture-proof container with a lid (e.g. a hard plastic container or tin can).
  • Do not touch the sharp with your bare hands.
  •  Use tongs, pliers or tweezers to pick up the sharp. It is best to also wear gloves.  Always hold sharp or cutting edges down and away from you.
  • Put the container on a stable surface next to the sharp. Do not hold the container in your hand when placing the sharp inside. If picking up a needle, put the needle in the container point down.  Do not force sharps into the container or overfill it.
  • Close the container securely.
  • Wash hands with soap and water and/or an alcohol-based hand rub after all handling sharps, containers, used equipment, and after removing gloves.
  • Teach children to never touch sharps but to tell an adult what they found and where.


If you are still nervous, the The City of London has partnered with the Middlesex-London Health Unit and Regional HIV/AIDS Connection to produce a video that provides step-by-step instructions on how to properly dispose of used sharps and syringes.

If needles are found on public property, please contact Dispatch:

  • 519-661-2489 ext. 4965
  • This phone line is answered 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.


Filed under: Health, Local, London, Middlesex, Needle, Sharp