While traveling from Dublin to San Francisco, a BART passenger claims she sat a stray hypodermic needle on her seat, which subsequently pricked her. In fact, this is not the first time a commuter has encountered such a particularly unsavory hazard while aboard the BART system.
According to KRON4, San Ramon resident Linda Quan discovered discarded intravenous drug materials underneath her seat on the train last Thursday, but only after a loose and possibly used needle pierced her backside.
This comes just weeks after an unfortunate viral video of drug use at Civic Center Station made national headlines in April, while at the same time the city of San Francisco devotes more time and resources to the problem of discarded needles on certain streets and sidewalks.
In March, an ABC 7 reporter discovered discarded needles on a BART seat during her morning commute. A month prior, another passenger was alarmed to discover a needle sticking business-side up from a seat cushion on a train.
In 2010, the peer-reviewed medical journal Medicine International estimated roughly 384,000 “needle-stick injuries” in the United States every year, although almost all of these happen to healthcare workers or those working in waste disposal, who are more likely to encounter syringes post-use.
There’s never been a recorded case of disease infection via needlestick injury in San Francisco, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the risk of transmission from such an incident is relatively low.
Even so, used needles pose a particular threat for transmission of HIV or hepatitis. Given the hazard, passengers on BART and other public transit systems should check their seats and surrounding areas carefully.
Note that Quan did not encounter the stray needle until approximately 30 minutes into her ride.
If you do find a needle, don’t touch it and instead report it to the train operator; always assume that a loose and unattended needle has been used, even if the cap is on.