NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. – An unlikely line of combat has emerged in the United States opiate epidemic: public toilets.
Coded door locks and biohazard boxes are just some of the ways that store owners are making their bathrooms safer.
New lights that are tested at a Sheetz service station in a bathroom in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, are another attempt to do just that.
"At first it's a bit jarring, you go to a bathroom, you expect it to be well lit," Nathan Murray Sinicki of New Kensington told WPXI.
But it is not.
Sheetz is working with the support of the New Kensington Police Department, installing blue recessed lighting to combat drug use in the community.
New Kensington officials tell WPXI that blue lights are an impediment because they make it harder for addicts to see their veins.
The system "is designed to help our customers and employees avoid dangerous situations," said Nick Ruffner, public relations manager at Sheetz.
"I heard some people think it was pretty creepy or discouraging to go in. I do not think that's the case, if you're helping the New Kensington drug epidemic, I think it's good," Sinicki said.
In 2016, Westmoreland County had 174 overdose deaths, with numbers in 2017 about to outshine that.
"One of" our top priorities at Sheetz is to create a safe environment for our customers and employees, "said Ruffner.
James Thompson, a local resident, agrees, something like:" I'm in favor of if it's going to work. "On the other hand, they could go elsewhere and do it."
At this time the lights are being tested in this store. "It is too early to see the full results at this time or to discuss any plans to extend this test," Ruffner said.