PERTH AMBOY, N.J. (PIX11) — Students helping to clean up their local beach found more than just plastic bottles and bags.
Dozens of syringes have washed up on a Perth Amboy beach recently, but health officials said the discovery should act like more of a reminder to beachgoers than a warning.
“This is something that we’re going to have to keep an eye on,” said Raritan Riverkeeper Bill Schultz.
Perth Amboy is part of an urban area, not the Jersey Shore. It’s not uncommon for sporadic needles to wash up there, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The needles may be disposed on the street and can get carried into storm water discharge systems, especially after heavy rainfall, a department spokesperson told PIX11.
As soon as the hazard was recognized, teacher Daniel Harning said his students were pulled from the beach and no one was hurt. They were part of an after-school beach cleanup program.
Beachgoers who find needles or similar items should contact their local Health Department, and not handle them, the state DEP said.
Residents are told to always dispose of needles or any household medical waste properly, not down the toilet.
In a statement, the New Jersey Department of Health said:
“It is not unusual in the late spring — after a winter of storms — for needles to occasionally wash up because of storms. That is not medical waste. The Department of Health has no reports of any medical debris or wash-ups anywhere. Syringes found on a beach should be turned into local police. Local health officials are diligently monitoring beaches.”
The Perth Amboy Fireworks Show will not be affected, officials said.
If beachgoers spot a large number of syringes or similar items, they can contact the DEP hotline at 877-WARNDEP.