Keeping Toronto neighbourhoods safe is our collective responsibility. Improperly discarded needles and harm reduction supplies found in our communities have been identified as a concern. In an effort to promote community safety, Toronto Public Health, along with many City and community partners, has implemented a variety of measures to address this area.
To date, there has been no reported transmission of HIV following injuries by needles discarded in the community.
Injury from used needles and syringes found in community settings can be concerning, especially when children find discarded needles and injure themselves while playing with them. The evidence shows that although the actual risk of infection from such an injury is extremely low, the perception of risk by parents results in much anxiety.
See the Canadian Paediatric Society’s recent statement for more information.
Download Toronto Public Health’s poster on how to safely pick up a needle.
Outdoor needle drop boxes provide a safe and convenient way for people to dispose of used sharps in the community.
See needle drop box locations in Toronto.
The City of Toronto will collect needles from City property. If needles are found on private property, please follow the guidelines for safe handling and disposal methods.
Through Toronto Public Health’s (TPH) needle exchange program, The Works, staff provide counselling, and distribution of harm reduction supplies including safer injection and smoking equipment. These supplies are available at 277 Victoria Street, during street outreach and through the Works mobile van. Clients can obtain new equipment and/or dispose of their used equipment.
TPH advises people who use drugs to safely dispose of used needles and other drug use equipment and accept used equipment at The Works or at any of the 70 community agencies throughout the City of Toronto. There are also 22 needle drop boxes in areas across the city, including two located outside the Toronto Public Health building at 277 Victoria Street, which allows for people to safely dispose of drug use equipment when The Works is not open.
We train people who use drugs on how to safely dispose of syringes and provide sharps containers for them to safely store their used drug use equipment until they can return them to one of our locations.
TPH conducts outreach in neighborhoods twice a day from Monday to Saturday and once on Sunday to reach out to people who use drugs promoting safe disposal and to make people aware of our needle exchange program. TPH also respond to reports of discarded drug use equipment.