Prepare to be grossed out if you've ever walked by UN Plaza on particularly blustery day: our local FOX affiliate is peering deep into the plaza's abyss after one student from the Art Institute of California claims he got a severe eye infection from the water spraying out of the plaza's fountain.
Jakob Kuhlman tells KTVU that he was walking by the plaza last month when strong winds blew water into his face, which is a gross enough fate on its own. Days later, Kuhlman had a puffy, red eye. Doctors at Oakland's VA Hospital told him it was infected and put him on antibiotics before sending him on his way to becoming the subject of a local news story.
Although Kuhlman can't prove the fountain water was the culprit, KTVU asked around the Department of Public Works to find out just what kind of stuff ends up in the UN Plaza fountain. According to DPW spokeswoman Rachel Gordon, the fountain is cleaned once a week and disinfected with chlorine and bromide, but there are still a startling number of used needles ending up in the drainage below all that misty spray: "We have found anywhere from several dozen to maybe three dozen on a monthly basis," Gordon told KTVU. "We have a filter and they collect in that filter."
As for the water itself, a city inspector found the levels of disinfectant to be "comparable to what is required in swimming pools and spas," which is somewhat reassuring, but we'd still recommend double- or triple-washing any produce you pick up at Heart of the City Farmers Market.