San Fransisco compared to ‘the worst slums in the world’ (pictures)

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An NBC investigation unit describes San Francisco streets as being littered with “a dangerous mix of drug needles, garbage, and feces” throughout a 20-mile stretch in the downtown area.

From NBC: The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit surveyed a section of downtown San Francisco to determine the amount of feces, hypodermic needles, and garbage littering the heart of the city. The results reveal a disgusting and potentially deadly mix of contamination that experts now believe could exceed some of the dirtiest slums in the world. 

As the Investigative Unit photographed nearly a dozen hypodermic needles scattered across one block, a group of preschool students happened to walk by on their way to an afternoon field trip to city hall.

The report continues: The Investigate Unit spent three days assessing conditions on the streets of downtown San Francisco and discovered trash on each of the 153 blocks surveyed. While some streets were littered with items as small as a candy wrapper, the vast majority of trash found included large heaps of garbage, food, and discarded junk. The investigation also found 100 drug needles and more than 300 piles of feces throughout downtown. 

Dr. Lee Riley, an infectious disease expert at University of California, Berkeley, warned of the dangers of such refuse.

“If you do get stuck with these disposed needles you can get HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and a variety of other viral diseases,” said Dr. Riley.

He warned that once fecal matter dries, it can become airborne, releasing potentially dangerous viruses, such as the rotavirus. “If you happen to inhale that, it can also go into your intestine,” he said. The results can prove fatal, especially in children.

The report says that, based on the findings of the NBC Investigative Unit, Dr. Riley says parts of the city may be dirtier than the slums in certain developing countries.

“The contamination is … much greater than communities in Brazil or Kenya or India,” he said. He notes that in those countries, slum dwellings are often long-term homes for families and so there is an attempt to make the surroundings more livable. Homeless communities in San Francisco, however, are often kicked out from one part of town and forced to relocate to another. The result is extreme contamination, according to Riley.

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