Increasing urban density has perpetuated the issues involving illicit drug use. Needle Exchange programs found in major cities around the world have return rates as low as 40%, leaving up to 60% of distributed needles unaccounted for.
About Tina Thompson... It was in 2006 when the idea for biohazard deterrents for manholes began to take form for Tina, with patent applications for early designs being filed at the beginning of 2007. It has been an exciting journey
News & Press
Device helps protect those who work down manholes. Coquitlam woman was inspired to create gizmo after husband stepped on a needle underground.

By Jenny Lee, Vancouver Sun
Published: November 18, 2010

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VANCOUVER — Tina Thompson’s husband was working down a manhole when a used syringe needle jabbed him in the foot.
The needle stabbed only his steel-toed boot, but Thompson was horrified. It turns out that drug addicts commonly drop used needles down the holes in manhole covers, and utility staff regularly work amid the hazardous waste.

“I had no idea there would be things like that down manholes,” said Thompson, 44, a former systems analyst. “It would never have occurred to me.”

When Thompson came off a couple of maternity leaves and took a buyout four years ago, she decided to play with the problem — kick it around a little and see if she could solve it.

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It's a dirty job — and some don't have to do it anymore — thanks to a new device designed to protect workers in manholes from unsafe encounters underground.

By Alexandra Skinner-Reynolds - Work Safe Magazine
Published: July / August 2009

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You are in a dark underground room that smells like garbage and human waste. Surrounded by concrete walls, you trudge through muck, your flashlight trained like a beacon on the used needles littering the path in front of you. Grasping metal tongs, you fish out dozens of exposed syringes from the sludge beneath you and all around you, dropping them one by one into a sharps disposal container.

Once the needles are gone, an industrial cleaning company power washes the area and pumps out any remaining biohazardous waste.

Now you can begin your work — repairing telecommunications wires. You are a utility worker, and this is your office.

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'It provides an engineering solution to a problem we've been fighting for years'
— John Leighton,
Telus outdoor maintenance technician
Mug Solutions could save utility workers from injury with utility cover plug

By Sarah Payne - The Tri-City News

Published: April 30, 2009 3:00 PM
Updated: April 30, 2009 3:17 PM

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The things utility workers come across when they shimmy down a manhole into the dark, dank bowels of a city’s underground are not pretty.

Murky water, bits of garbage, just about anything that flows down a street and can fit into the holes of a utility cover.

Now imagine what those workers find when they pry off a manhole cover in the kind of Downtown Eastside alley most people would avoid even in broad daylight.
The dry ones feature large, cone-shaped piles of used syringes.

In the manholes filled with a sloshing, dark brown sludge of you-don’t-want-to-know-what the needles are floating — hundreds of them, maybe thousands.

Drug users on their way to a needle exchange slip their used syringes down the holes in the utility covers, hence the cone-shaped piles. So when it’s time for a Telus worker to dip underground they get the nasty job of picking up the needles (with tongs) and dropping them into a sharps container.

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How a news story sent a Canadian woman’s career undercover

Small Business News
Published: August 2009

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Tina Thompson of MUG Solutions received the Stevie for Best Canadian Entrepreneur, and her Coquitlam, British Columbia-based company was named Best New Company of the Year, in the 2008 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.

The Idea
The idea that would change Tina Thompson’s life began to take form in 2006, just after she had given birth to her second child.   Tina had been working in the fast-paced IT industry and was looking for a less frantic career—ideally one where she could work from home.
Around the same time there was lively debate in Vancouver about the Needle Exchange Program for drug users, which had been established there in 1989. Had it been a success or a failure?  Curiosity led Tina to research this program, only to discover that the use of the word “exchange” was misleading.  Fresh needles were simply distributed to drug users to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.  So the question was: Where were all the old needles going?

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Forum for Women Entrepreneur's Fall Newsletter
Published: Fall 2009

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Imagine coming into your office... and in the night someone has thrown a few hundred used syringes around the room. It’s dark, but you are armed with a flashlight, some tongs and a sharp container, and are expected to find and remove all the needles before you can begin your workday. If you are stuck by a needle, you must begin a serious...

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MUG Solutions innovative product keeps workers safe

Vancouver Board of Trade Sounding Board
Published: March/April 2010

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Needle exchange programs found in major cities around the world have return rates as low as 40 per cent, leaving up to 60 per cent of the millions of distributed needles unaccounted for. One popular method of disposal for users is to drop them through the holes found in manhole covers.
Every day, utility workers in Vancouver and many other cities around the world must enter the dark, confined spaces of manholes that can contain as many as hundreds of used syringes. If the weather has been dry, these syringes are in cone-shaped piles directly below the manhole cover. More often, roadwash, hydrocarbons, commercial run-off and human waste mix to form a mucky liquid of up to a foot deep in which the syringes float.

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