Hypodermic needles found on beach

Ed Hirsch found the needles picutured above last Thursday during one of his frequent weekly visits to the beach. Photo by Ed Hirsch

Last week a Seal Beach resident found multiple hypodermic needles on the city’s beach. According to the head of the city’s Marine Safety (Lifeguard) Department, the needles were most likely medical waste that had washed up on shore. Lifeguard Chief Joe Bailey said the Public Works Department would do an extra sweep of the beach for hypodermic needles.

According to news reports, hypodermic needles washed up on the shore of Newport Beach earlier that same week.

Ed Hirsch found the needles last Thursday during one of his frequent weekly visits to the beach. He said he usually finds two or three needles a day. But last week he said he found a surprisingly large number of needles during 20 minutes of poking the sand with a stick. He said he found most of them along the berm.

Hirsch said he was concerned about public health. He wrote an email to several city officials, including the city manager and the members of the City Council. According to his email, “The needles were all over the beach, not only by the shore. At least a third of them were in the debris at the base of the berm.”

According to Hirsch, “The risk of danger will not go away by the passing of time. In addition, the city, in maintaining the berm, has bulldozers plow the sea trash, including the hypodermic needles, into the sand, where they will persist, potentially indefinitely.”

Councilwoman Ellery Deaton, whose district includes the beach, said she had written City Hall and asked them to contact the investigating authority as soon as they returned from Christmas vacation. City Hall was closed for the holidays during the last week of December.

Deaton said the needles could have been dumped on the beach or simply washed ashore. She said an investigation was needed.

Deaton said she hoped the city would get the needles that Hirsch had collected to find out if they were from the one manufacturer or many.

Hirsch told the Sun that the hypodermic needles appeared to have been made by a variety of manufacturers.

According to Chief Bailey, the highest tides of the year took place in December, followed by recent rains. He said the sad fact was that winter weather had tossed up a lot of garbage on the beach and that include hypodermic needles. As for an investigation, he said the Orange County Health Care Agency would have the authority to investigate the matter. Bailey wanted to urge the public to refrain from picking up hypodermic needles on the beach. He suggested that when members of the public find needles on the beach, they mark the spot with a stick. He said Lifeguards have the equipment to collect the needles safely.

In 2015, medical waste washed up on Manhattan Beach. In the late 1980s, so much medical waste washed up on the shores of the East Coast that it became known as the “syringe tide.”

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