Blue lights installed in public washrooms are meant to deter drug use by making veins more difficult to see. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Blue-lit public bathrooms don’t deter drug use, says provincial authority

The BC Centre for Disease Control finds lights increase risk for all

Some residents may have noticed blue lights illuminated spaces such as public washrooms in downtown Victoria.

The lights are aimed at preventing drug use in the bathrooms and with a safe injection site in the area, it’s easy to understand the concern, but according to the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) blue lights may have the reverse affect and increase the risks associated with injecting drugs.

The lights are intended to visually obscure superficial veins, thus making it difficult to inject drugs intravenously. A position statement released by the BCCDC states that despite vein visibility, evidence shows people who are confident in their injecting ability will inject under the lights, adding the lights promote unsafe practices such as deep vein injecting which can be done without visual identification of the vein.

READ ALSO: Victoria man thanks arresting officers after drug-fuelled spree

People who use drugs may also have trouble measuring or monitoring the amount of substance they are injecting, increasing the risk of overdose and the risk of bloodborne virus transmissions as it’s harder to see and clean up any blood or bodily fluids.

A study cited by the BCCDC, and found in the Harm Reduction Journal, interviewed 18 people who used injection drugs and found the need for an immediate solution would often override other considerations when choosing a place to use.

One of the participants stated “if I’m dope sick then it doesn’t really matter where I do it. I mean, I would do it in front of a cop car.”

The study found participants had a number of strategies to overcome some of the inconveniences imposed by blue lights such as preparing and loading syringes before entering the bathroom, bringing other light sources like candles, lighters or flashlights with them, injecting by feel or even stepping out into the hallway and doing it there. Women and ‘veteran injectors,’ with smaller or more difficult to access veins, were found to have particular difficulty adapting under blue lights.

READ ALSO: New report finds B.C. victims of opioids crisis on lower of end of socio-economic spectrum

The BCCDC adds, blue lights compromise the health and safety of all washroom users as the reduced visibility can increase the risk of trips and falls, make it harder to see and clean up hazardous waste, along with the prevention of carrying out basic personal hygiene — such as identifying changes in eye or skin tone, or detecting the presence of blood or discoloration in bodily fluids.

A recent post on the Facebook group, Victoria Rant and Rave, garnered a number of comments from people who thought the blue lights would not deter people, along with a few others noting the stigmatizing nature of the lights.

Cheryl Bloxham, spokesperson with Island Health, told Black Press Media the province’s health authorities, including Island Health, support the BCCDC’s position on the lights.

The BCCDC recommends businesses or other organizations with concerns about drug use in their washrooms connect with a local harm reduction coordinator for support with implementing alternative strategies, such as installing sharp disposal boxes.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

The BCCDC recommends businesses or other organizations with concerns about drug use in their washrooms should connect with their local harm reduction coordinator for support with implementing alternative strategies, such as installing sharps disposal boxes. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Just Posted

Free firework safety courses coming to the West Shore right before Halloween

No permit? You could be fined anywhere between $100 and $10,000

Vendors open doors to new futures at Black Press Extreme Education & Career Fair

More tham two dozen employers, educators signed on for Victoria event

Persons Day to be marked with literary readings in Sidney

Peninsula authors to read from their new books relating to women and courageous journeys, Oct. 18

Fairfield-Gonzales residents aim to establish senior care phone line

The Fairfield-Gonzales Village would allow seniors living alone to have a direct line to resources

Antimatter 2019: The best in experimental media art comes to Victoria

22nd annual festival of film, performance art and more biggest ever – 120 artists, 30 countries

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

The one with the ‘Friends’ photoshoot: Kelowna group recreates TV show intro

A friend’s departure prompted them to create something that really says, “I’ll be there for you”

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

Most Read