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Local, county departments to install syringe disposal boxes by end of February


A pile of syringes fills a bag. Syringe disposal boxes will be installed in three parks by the end of February through a partnership between the Bloomington Parks and Recreation and Monroe County Health departments. Tribune News Service

The Bloomington Parks and Recreation and Monroe County Health departments are partnering to install syringe disposal boxes in three city parks by the end of February.

The program will consist of a yearlong pilot project, in which the health department will provide disposal boxes and disposable plastic inserts, according to a Bloomington press release. The boxes will be installed in Seminary Park, Rev. Ernest D. Butler Park and Building Trades Park, located on the west side of Bloomington. They will be maintained by the parks department.

Penny Caudill, Monroe County Health Department administrator, said parks department staff will be trained in collecting and handling syringes and will deliver them to the Indiana Recovery Alliance building for safe disposal.

“It’s about safety and reducing stigma,” Caudill said.

Caudill said the parks were chosen because the Bloomington Police Department has responded to a high number of calls at these locations over the past year.

By giving people a place to safely dispose of syringes, the program will test whether disposal boxes decrease the amount of syringes found in the parks, Caudill said. The boxes can also protect first responders and the public from accidental needle injuries.

Caudill said people may be fear that this could increase drug use or crime because there will be a safe place to dispose of syringes, but there is no evidence suggesting this. However, safe disposal sites play a role in reducing disease transmission such as hepatitis and HIV, Caudill said.

The project will be reviewed in the fall and at the end of this year, according to the press release. The review will look at the number of syringes still found on the ground at parks and the number of disposal bags each container goes through. Based on that review, the program will either end or be proposed for renewal in 2021.

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