Safe Sharps Disposal
Sharps are medical devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin. Examples of sharps include:
- Needles – hollow needles used to inject drugs (medication) under the skin
- Syringes – devices used to inject medication into or withdraw fluid from the body
- Lancets, also called “fingerstick” devices – instruments with a short, two-edged blade used to get drops of blood for testing. Lancets are commonly used in the treatment of diabetes.
- Auto Injectors, including epinephrine and insulin pens – syringes pre-filled with fluid medication designed to be self-injected into the body
- Infusion sets – tubing systems with a needle used to deliver drugs to the body.
- Connection needles/sets – needles that connect to a tube used to transfer fluids in and out of the body. This is generally used for patients on home hemodialysis.
Importance of Safe Sharps Disposal
Used needles and other sharps are dangerous to people and pets if not disposed of safely because they can cause injury and even spread disease.
Never place sharps in trash or recycling, and never flush them down the toilet. This puts trash and sewage workers, household members, and children at risk of being harmed.
If you cannot get a sharps container, you can make one:
- Choose a strong plastic container with a small opening and a tight-fitting lid. Laundry detergent and bleach bottles are good examples. Milk jugs and soda or water bottles are too soft and may be punctured by the sharps.
- Use until container is 3/4 full:
4. Tape it shut securely with heavy tape such as duct tape, and put it in the household trash.