Syringe disposal boxes installed in public parks in Dover

Kelly O’Brian | WMUR9
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A new effort to combat substance misuse and keep communities safe and clean from medical waste is underway in Dover.

Syringe disposal boxes are popping up in public parks in Dover, with the goal of keeping the parks clean.

“The reality is, we are still smack dab in the middle of this opioid epidemic,” said Peter Fifield, of the substance use disorder program at Wentworth Douglass Hospital.

As the epidemic continues, communities are looking at different ways to keep people safe.

“There is a significant need for this, just in terms of properly disposing sharps in our community,” Fifield said. “It’s been an ongoing issue.”

There are already syringe exchange programs in the community that hand out sterile needles and collect used ones. There are now two boxes for disposal in high-need areas.

For the past year, community organizations around Dover have worked together to make syringe disposal boxes more accessible.

“There is evidence that shows, given the resources, the amount of waste found in the vicinity of those disposable resources goes down,” said Ashley Wright, public health network manager for Strafford County.

Officials said the locations were selected carefully, using organizations that have similar programs and the Dover Police Department to identify places that are already seeing needles.

“It’s meant to blend in a little bit more and not call attention to what it is,” said Palana Belken, director of operations for the New Hampshire Harm Reduction Coalition.

A QR code on the boxes can be scanned to pull up a list of resources available in the community.

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