New York City beachgoers beware: A fourth person has stepped on a hypodermic needle in the past three weeks, according to the website NYC Parks Advocates.
A female lifeguard was poked by a hypodermic needle at Rockaway Beach on Tuesday, according to Geoffrey Croft, one of the people who runs the website.
According to Croft, three other people have stepped on needles so far this month, at Cedar Grove Beach and South Beach, both in Staten Island.
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Croft has been the only person to report the needle-pricking incidents. He guessed the needles probably washed ashore from New York Harbor.
“It is true that it is a bay and these things wash up but it seems that there’s been an increase,” Croft told Metro. “The city should be warning the public about these instances, especially if they’re occurring at the frequency that we’ve reported.”
The Parks Department refused to confirm when Metro asked about the incidents.
According to NY/NJ Baykeeper Executive Director Debbie Manns, the latest string of needle stabbings isn’t the first time syringes have been improperly disposed of. Manns recalled an incident a few years ago when a hoard of needles found floating in the harbor was traced back to a local doctor who illegally dumped them.
While it is unknown where exactly these new needles came from, they are most likely coming from diabetics flushing their insulin syringes down the toilet, and into the city's sewer system, Manns told Metro.
“When it rains the storm water and sewer water combine with the sanitary water, bypassing water treatment and going directly into the harbor,” explained Manns about the city’s combined sewer system. “Eventually [trash] accumulates, floats around, and may wash up on a beach somewhere.”
According to Manns an estimated 28-30 billion gallons of untreated water enters New York Harbor every year.
Probably best to wear flip-flops
This is hardly the first time needles have popped up at NYC beaches or parks. Six other incidents have been reported since 2007:
1. July 23: female lifeguard pricked at Rockaway beach
2. July 16: 63-year-old woman stepped on a hypodermic needle at Cedar Grove Beach
3. July 4: 40-year-old man jabbed at South Beach
4. June 26: Multiple used syringes found near Beach 116th Street at Rockaway Beach
5. August 19, 2011: Eight beaches in Atlantic Beach closed after dozens of needles, syringes, pill bottles, and other medical waste washed ashore
5. October 11, 2010: kids find dirty hypodermic needle in sandbox at Seaside Wildlife Nature Park in Staten Island
6. June 3, 2007: 7-year-old Sayyidah Johnson pricked her thumb on a needle while building a sand castle at South Beach
7. Same week: Filomena Rago rolled onto a needle at Midland Beach in Staten Island