Mike Manzoni

14K Needles Per Week Found in Boston, Health Officials Say

Boston workers pick up 14,000 hypodermic needles each week, a staggering number that underscores the seriousness of the city's opioid epidemic.

That number, which equates to 728,000 per year, includes syringes collected at public playgrounds and parks as well as from designated drop-off boxes stationed around the city.

Discarded needles routinely litter Clifford Playground in Roxbury, which elementary school children use for recess.

"I'm disgusted as a parent," said Sandra Centeio, whose daughter is a first-grader at Mason Elementary School. "I'm not happy."

Centeio said she and her daughter regularly find discarded needles and other drug paraphernalia scattered across the playground.

"They're thinking, 'It's playtime, let me go touch it,'" she said.

The city dispatches cleanup crews to collect needles every day, but that hasn't dissuaded users from tossing their syringes on the ground.

"This is the biggest public health crisis of our time," said Devin Larkin, the city's bureau director of recovery services. "We've seen a steady increase in the number of syringes that are both going into circulation and that we're taking in off the street."

Larkin said fentanyl is to blame for users injecting more often.

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