An investigation from NBC Bay Area found that the deadly combination of garbage, human waste, and drug needles throughout San Francisco makes the city as bad as some of the worst slums in the world.
The investigative team spent 3 days surveying 153 blocks of the downtown area, a more than 20-mile stretch including popular tourist spots, City Hall, schools, playgrounds, and a police station.
They found about a dozen hypodermic needles strewn across a block that a group of preschoolers happened to be walking down on their way to a field trip at City Hall. Teacher Adelita Orellana told NBC Bay Area's investigative team:
We see poop, we see pee, we see needles, and we see trash. Sometimes they ask what is it, and that’s a conversation that’s a little difficult to have with a 2-year old, but we just let them know that those things are full of germs, that they are dangerous, and they should never be touched.”
Parents who walk their kids to school have to pull them out of the way of needles and human waste so they don't step on them.
The vast majority of trash across the city is heaps of food and discarded junk, and throughout downtown the investigation found 100 drug needles and more than 300 piles of feces.
300 piles of feces!
“If you do get stuck with these disposed needles you can get HIV, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and a variety of other viral diseases."
Riley also said that once fecal matter dries it can become airborne and release dangerous viruses, like the rotavirus. If you inhale the airborne fecal matter it can get into your intestine, which can be especially fatal for children.
Based on NBC Bay Area's investigation, Riley thinks that parts San Francisco could be even dirtier than slums in developing countries:
“The contamination is … much greater than communities in Brazil or Kenya or India."