What to do with used needles found in neighborhoods

DENVER -- As Colorado's heroin epidemic continues, people living in certain Denver neighborhoods continue to see used needles littered in their alleys and street gutters.

Ben Siller, a public health investigator, said he has not noticed an uptick in calls to collect dirty needles, but said there are neighborhoods that see more used ones.

People living in Capitol Hill have posted online about their problems with used needles and their struggle to figure out what to do with them.

A few months ago, one woman reported finding three needles containing blood and heroin a few feet from her backyard.

Siller said the city will remove the used needles if they are on public property.

"If they are discovered in a parking lot or in an alley or all kinds of different areas like that, we're called upon to pick up those needles," Siller said.

Picking up used needles is a top priority for the city, Siller said.

"We don't want children to come across them or anything so we get out there as quickly as we can to pick those up," Siller said.

For needles found on private property, homeowners are instructed to wear gloves and use pliers or tongs to pick up the needle.

"There are infectious diseases, of course you can get an infection if you get punctured by the needle and there is also hepatitis and HIV," Siller said.

After a homeowner has picked up the needle with tongs or pliers, the needle should be placed inside a seal-able container with a lid such as a coffee can or a laundry detergent bottle or a cat litter container.

From there, Siller said the container can be thrown in the trash. Homeowners can also take it a step further and bring the container to a needle drop-off location.