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Home Learn More Hazards Around Your Home Household Medical Wastes Medical Sharps
Medical Sharps PDF Print E-mail

Hypodermic needles, lancets and other such medical devices pose serious health threats when not disposed of properly.  Needle sticks can transmit serious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.  Solid waste workers are most at risk when medical sharps are mixed with typical household trash.

Even needles placed in sturdy containers for disposal are a threat when those containers break open inside a compactor truck on a trash pick-up route.  Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for plastic or steel containers full of medical sharps to be sent for recycling despite the risk those containers pose to workers moving and sorting those materials.  No can, jug or jar that contains sharps should ever be placed for recycling pick up.  In addition, waste water treatment plant personnel are at risk when sharps are flushed down toilets as those devices must be removed as part of the water treatment process.

A number of disposal options for medical sharps exist.  Many communities have local programs available to help residents responsibly dispose of sharps they generate in their homes.   Contact your local solid waste district for more information about collection programs in your area.

Mail back programs are also available.  For a fee, residents will be provided with a sharps container to use in their homes.  Once the container is full, it can be sealed and mailed back to the company for disposal.  Some medical offices, pharmacies and health departments may also offer sharps disposal programs.  Lastly, some manufacturers offer needle destruction devices that melt, sever and/or burn sharps, rendering them safe for disposal.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 February 2010 13:44