Volunteer group cleaning up dangerous used syringes from streets and trails

Volunteer group cleaning up dangerous used syringes from streets and trails (Photo: Jeremy Harris / KUTV)

(KUTV) – A small contingent of volunteers scoured a field off 600 West in Salt Lake City Wednesday afternoon looking for used drug syringes.

They found many -- at least one with a mixture of blood and drugs still inside it.

It was discarded a few dozen yards south of an apartment complex that houses hundreds of students from the nearby LDS Business College.

Patrick Rezac works with newly formed group called Syringe Watch. They pick up what drug users leave behind.

"There is a hazard, we collected 250 syringes last week and we're not at that level this week, but there are some," Rezac said.

The spot near the railroad track on 600 West is popular with drug users because of low lighting and a trail that is set back from the road. Their trail includes garbage, discarded clothes, and dozens of used syringes.

"It means one less chance of a needle stick injury," Rezac said of the group’s efforts to clean the area.

Rezac is a former drug user who is HIV positive. He says his efforts will help others from contracting disease.

“That's my purpose. it's preventable 100-percent," Rezac said.

Syringe Watch has been out for a few weeks picking up needles from spots popular with drug users. They’ve also formed a hotline where people can call and report discarded needles. (385-355-3221)

The problem of discarded needles is a frustration for advocacy groups like Syringe Watch, and the Utah Department of Health which told 2News on Tuesday that there is a push to get safe receptacles in high-traffic drug areas.

Heather Bush with the Utah Department of Health said drug users are more likely to safely discard of their needles if there is a hazardous materials receptacle easily available.

“Just like with garbage cans, if there is a garbage can every five feet, you’re going to dispose of your trash. If you can’t, you’re just going to leave it where you are,” Bush said.

LINK: One Voice Recovery, Inc.

LINK: Utah Harm Reduction Coalition.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off