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Needles found discarded throughout Toronto causing concern

TORONTO, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Nearly 140 reports of discarded syringes found across Toronto have been made over an 18-month period, officials say.

Between January 2012 and June 6, 2013, 137 requests were called in to the city's 311 help center to have discarded needles picked up from city parks, alleys and private property in Toronto, resulting in the recovery of 571 needles, the Toronto Sun reported Thursday.

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The highest number of needles recovered was in the Scarborough-Agincourt ward, where 200 needles were found, followed by the York South-Weston ward, where 104 were found.

Matt Johnson, who works at a downtown Toronto needle exchange, said he believes the problem has been blown out of proportion.

"If one needle gets found in a park -- sure, it's a scary thing -- but people will get incredibly angry and incredibly fearful about what is likely a one-off thing," he said.

Johnson said improperly discarded needles are often unfairly blamed on homeless people, who are also complaining about finding needles.

"There were some young people who left syringes in a downtown park," Johnson said. "And it was actually a large number of homeless people who use the park, sleep in the park, let their dogs play there, that complained about it."

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Nonetheless, Torontonians say they are worried about the issue.

Danielle Monk, 26, said she stepped on a needle in a park while playing with her son.

"I'm just furious this has happened somewhere that kids play," Monk said. "There are generations of the same families that have grown up here who say they've all seen an increase in drug use in the neighborhood."

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