By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This summer, we showed you needles littering parts of Minneapolis.

At the time, no particular department in the city was assigned to clean them up. The used-needle littering in parts of the city was so bad that the fire department was stepping in to help.

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Now, four months later, the city health department is doing something about the problem.

“It is a public health concern, and that is our concern as a health department,” said Deputy Commissioner Noya Woodrich.

It’s a public drop box for used needles — a secure upgrade to makeshift disposal containers that are typically made from used milk containers.

(credit: CBS)

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“Right now, most of these boxes are located in and around Bloomington Avenue,” Woodrich said.

Crews have picked up more than 500 needles from just one box off Bloomington Avenue and East 25th Street since installation 10 days ago.

The city is installing 10 of the boxes in carefully-selected areas across the city, to the tune of $25,000. It will cost another $25,000 to empty them once a week, but Woodrich says it’s worth it.

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“They want to see that they’re being heard and they want to see that the city is doing something to respond,” she said.

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This is a pilot program, so the health department is going to see how things go over the next couple of months. It says it will install more or move the current boxes based on how much people use them.

Erin Hassanzadeh