How To Safely Dispose Of Used Needles And Other Sharp Items

Posted by on December 7, 2016
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Disposal of needles and sharps is a serious issue. Many people today suffer from such diseases as diabetes or allergies, and have to inject themselves with medication. In some cases syringes are used on a daily basis, and need to be disposed of properly. As well, any non-medical sharps, such as razor blades and broken glass that has had contact with blood or other bodily fluids must follow the same careful disposal rules.

Why does the disposal of needles and sharps require special attention?

Even a speck of blood on needles or broken glass can carry various infections. These potentially life-threatening pathogens can live on needles and sharps for long periods. If thrown to the curb along with the rest of trash or recyclables, these contaminated implements pose a health risk to people who may accidentally come in contact with them.

A passerby could trip and fall on a pile of garbage bags with contaminated sharp objects poking through. Neighbourhood children playing around could find their way into that danger zone. Used needles and sharps thrown out with the regular trash also poses a risk to sanitation workers. So, never dispose of used needles, syringes and lancets or sharp objects that have blood on them with your garbage. In most municipalities, it is actually illegal to throw out needles with garbage, and merits a fine.

Guidelines to handle and dispose of needles and sharps safely.

  • Do not touch the sharps with your bare hands – always wear gloves or use pliers or tweezers to handle them.
  • Never break, bend, cut or recap used syringes or needles.
  • Never use glass, thin plastic or cardboard containers to package them. Glass can be broken and leave the shards exposed, while thin plastic or cardboard can be easily punctured by the sharps inside.
  • Use a specialized container to package sharps. You can pick one up at your community pharmacy or Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) Supply Centre. When the container is almost full, seal the lid and return the container to the pharmacy or the CDA Supply Centre.

Sharps Container Programs

Shoppers Drug Mart offers a sharps container program. Their containers are made of hard plastic so sharps won’t poke through, and are marked with stickers that warn that the material inside is a bio-hazard. Once you deliver a filled up container back to your Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy, they will dispose of it in a manner that won’t harm anyone or the environment.

If you don’t have such a specialized sharp container, use a metal can or a hard plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Tape it up for more security and mark it “biohazard. Most municipalities have needle drop boxes – find one near you and deliver the container there.

Only broken glass or sharp-edged objects that have not come into contact with blood or bodily fluids can be included with normal garbage collection. However, these items must be carefully packaged in a strong cardboard box and labelled “Caution – Broken Glass” so garbage collectors do not harm themselves. If you’ve done a renovation or construction on your property and you have many bits, chips and pieces of glass, metal or other materials that can potentially cut through the skin, it’s best to leave the removal of this junk to professionals.

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