Sharps Disposal during the COVID-19 Pandemic
in Local News
Written by Lainnie Emond, Substance Abuse Coordinator, Lowell Health Department
Contact: Andres Gonzalez, Syringe Collection Program Coordinator, Lowell Health Department, 978-674-1049
Lowell, MA – The City of Lowell’s Syringe Collection Program, housed under the Substance Abuse and Prevention Division within the Lowell Health Department, has continued to respond to the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the start of the program in April of 2019, Andres Gonzalez, Syringe Collection Program Coordinator, has been spending his days in the community. Andres responds to incoming discarded syringe pick-up requests and proactively removes discarded syringes from community spaces. He regularly works with over 20 community agencies and City departments to keep community members safe. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Andres’ rates of syringe collection have been consistent compared to pre-pandemic collection.
Andres is available to respond to discarded syringe pick-up requests in Lowell between 8:00 am to 4:00 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; between 8:00 am to 7:00 pm on Tuesdays; and 8:00 am to 12:00 pm on Fridays. To report a discarded syringe found in the community during the Syringe Collection Program’s working hours, residents and employees of Lowell may call Andres directly at 978-674-1049. Individuals will be asked to identify the address, specific location of the needle, and how many needles were found. While it may be helpful to leave a return call phone number in case more information is needed to locate the discarded syringe(s), the service is confidential and anonymous.
For discarded syringe pick-up requests outside of program hours, residents may continue to call the Lowell Police Department non-emergency line at 978-937-3200. The Lowell Police Department will report the request to Trinity EMS; it is asked that residents do not call Trinity EMS directly to report a discarded needle.
The Syringe Collection Program also oversees the Lowell Health Department’s sharps disposal kiosk, which was provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in 2019 for use by community members free of charge. In 2020, community members disposed of 495 pounds of unwanted sharps through the Lowell Health Department’s sharps disposal kiosk. The sharps disposal kiosk is for residential disposal only and cannot accommodate commercial disposal. Sharps must be placed in a puncture proof biohazard sharps container before being placed in the kiosk. The sharps disposal kiosk is available for use during the Lowell Health Department’s business hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays; 8:00 am to 8:00 pm on Tuesdays; and 8:00 am to 12:00 pm on Fridays. If participants do not have a puncture proof container, the Lowell Health Department will provide one free of charge while in supply.
With the warm weather here, Andres is available to offer his disposal services in compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols during community clean-up events in Lowell. Andres is also available to sweep parks and fields for discarded syringes before community outings and sporting events, as well as provide educational presentations about sharps safety to community coalitions, businesses, and youth and youth serving agencies.
More information can be found at www.LowellMA.gov or by calling 978-674-1049 or 978-674-4304.
The Lowell Health Department strives to promote and protect the health and wellness of the people within Lowell. It fulfills this mission through a wide range of public health programs and outreach health education in a variety of areas.