Snohomish Health District expands free needle clean-up kit program, adds disposal sites

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Business owners and residents of Snohomish County can more easily clean up and dispose of needles found in their communities thanks to the expansion of a program by the Snohomish Health District.

Since rolling out the free needle clean-up kit program in September 2017, over 800 kits have been distributed by the Snohomish Health District. These kits have ensured the safe and proper disposal of more than 10,000 syringes, the District says.

Starting Wednesday—and as a result of Opioid Response Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) Group efforts—the program is expanding to make it simpler and safer for residents and business owners to clean up and dispose of needles.

The kits include a sharps container, heavy-duty gloves, safety glasses, tongs, hand sanitizer and simple instructions for safe collection. There are now 11 locations where free clean-up kits can be picked up during normal business hours, including the Lynnwood City Hall and others nearby:

Previously, the Snohomish Health District was the only location accepting returned clean-up kits for free disposal. Now, through a partnership with Snohomish County’s Solid Waste Division, approved sharps containers with the Snohomish Overdose Prevention stickers can be returned during normal business hours to other locations, including the recycling station located in Mountlake Terrace:

Please note that milk jugs, soda bottles and tin cans are not accepted sharps containers. It is unlawful to dispose of needles in solid waste containers in Snohomish County. Full details of the program can be found at www.snohomishoverdoseprevention.com/clean-up.

“As we work to lessen the impacts of the opioid epidemic on our community, these pragmatic efforts to make our community safer will have lasting impact,” said Dave Somers, Snohomish County Executive. “This is a very concrete sign that our partial activation of the emergency management system is targeting the problems that matter most to our residents. I appreciate the partnerships across the community that will help remove needles and make our parks, streets and back country safer for everyone.”

In addition to the kits, the City of Everett and the Snohomish Health District developed a short video on how to safely collect and dispose of used needles: What to do when you find a needle.

“When we launched this program last fall, our primary goal was to keep community members safe while they were out doing neighborhood clean-ups,” said Jefferson Ketchel, administrator for the Snohomish Health District.

Used needles left in public and private places are both a nuisance and potential safety concern. Whether they’re used to inject medicines like insulin or for illegal drugs, used needles can spread diseases like Hepatitis C through accidental needle pokes. While the risk of contracting a disease from a needle-stick injury is very low, you can further reduce that risk by using the right equipment and procedures.

For more information on efforts being done through the Opioid Response MAC Group, visit www.snohomishoverdoseprevention.com. This website and accompanying social media accounts were developed to be a one-stop shop for resources.

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