Home health care for conditions like diabetes has led to the use of more than 2 billion needles and syringes outside traditional health care facilities. Because they are so commonplace, people throw their sharps into the trash, which poses a health and injury risk to anyone who encounters them. Although as of 2010 there are no federal regulations for home sharps waste, federal, state and community organisations provide tips for safe and responsible needle disposal.
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- Sharps bin
Keep needles and sharp bins out of the trash. The first step in responsible sharps disposal is forgetting about the home waste bin. Public attitudes about needle disposal need to align with attitudes about recycling other materials.
Seek safe needle disposal programs in your community. The Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal, EPA's Wastes website, and the Center for Disease Control's Safe Community Needle Disposal website provide interactive information on regional, state and community information on the regulations affecting the labelling, transportation and disposal of used sharps.
Locate a community drop box or collection site. When your home sharps bin is full, take the entire container of used needles to designated collections sites like hospitals, health clinics, local government health departments or fire stations. These services are typically free and convenient.
Participate in a Syringe Exchange Programs. The North American Syringe Exchange Network provides sharp users with information on how to exchange their used needles for new, clean needles.
Research mail-back programs. Programs are available in certain communities that allow sharps users to sign up and receive special envelopes for their old sharps, which are then shipped to a collection site for proper disposal. There are typically fees associated with this service.
Purchase a home sharps disposal device. There are products available to the home sharps user that sever, burn, or melt the needle to make it safe for disposal.
Tips and warnings
- Throwing sharps in the trash poses the largest health and injury risk to sanitation workers, waste employees, hospitality employees and children.
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