Improperly discarded’ sharps’ can be dangerous
Improperly discarded’ sharps’ can be dangerous

Many people use needles, syringes and lancets — called “sharps” — to manage their medical conditions at home. These conditions include diabetes, allergies, infertility, arthritis, hepatitis, HIV, blood clotting disorders, migraines and cancer. Sharps are also used to give medication to pets and farm animals.

But the haphazard disposal of these devices is putting a lot of other people, including waste-disposal workers, housekeepers, family members and children, at risk of injury and serious infections.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has created a new web section with information about the safe disposal of needles and other sharps.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 9 million people in the U.S. use sharps at home — that equates to more than 3 billion disposable needles and syringes and 900 million lancets each year.

Unfortunately, many sharps used outside of a doctor’s office or hospital are thrown in the household trash, and that’s hazardous.

FDA warns that:

Loose sharps should never be thrown away in household or public trash containers, toilets or recycling bins and

a person who is accidentally pricked by a discarded sharp is at risk of exposure to such blood-borne viruses as hepatitis and HIV.

Disposing of Sharps Containers

There are a number of ways to safely dispose of the sharps containers. When the sharps disposal container is about three-quarters full, follow your community waste guidelines for disposing of the container. These guidelines vary depending on where you live. Local trash collection departments or health departments may have information about sharps disposal programs. In general they include:

  • 1.Drop boxes: Collection sites are located at doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies and police or fire stations.
  • 2.Hazardous waste sites: Public collection sites for hazardous materials (e.g., paints, cleaners and motor oil) may also accept sharps containers.
  • 3.Residential pickup programs: Some communities have pickup services for waste that includes sharps containers.
  • 4.Mail-back programs: The label on the container should have information on how to mail certain FDA-cleared sharps disposal containers to a collection site for proper disposal.

If you are accidentally struck by another person’s used sharp, FDA advises that you wash the exposed area promptly with water and soap or a skin disinfectant, (e.g. rubbing alcohol) and seek immediate medical attention.

                                                                                                            Content provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration


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