Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about where our waste goes. But if you use biomedical equipment it’s on you to responsibly dispose of waste that could pose a risk to others. Many people use sharps to manage health conditions. If you do you should have access to a sharps container. Below we’ll go more in-depth about what sharps are and how to dispose of them safely.
Sharps are any biomedical device used to puncture the skin. Sharps include: - Needles - Syringes - Autoinjectors such as insulin pens - Scalpels - Lancets (blood-prick devices used for diabetes home HIV tests etc.) - Infusion devices Even if you use sharps at home such as for diabetes or a pet’s medical condition you should still consider them medical waste. This means they require special treatment for safe disposal.
You shouldn’t dispose of sharps like regular garbage. For secure and safe disposal sharps should be discarded in FDA-cleared medical sharps containers. Containers are available through companies selling medical supplies and through pharmacies. Anybody who has access to and uses sharps (needles syringes etc.) should own a sharps container. Sharps containers are made of solid plastic and marked with a fill line. Other than that they take a variety of forms including travel versions. The signage on a container denotes the contents. It carries warnings for safety and potential biohazardous material. You’ll see these containers in hospitals pharmacies and in some public toilets. Once a sharps container is full you’ll need to responsibly dispose of it. They can often be disposed at supervised sites like a police station hospital or doctor’s office. If you have a local waste collection site it may offer hazardous waste collection. Some FDA-approved sharps containers work on a mail-back program. For a fee you can send the container off to be safely disposed of.
Used sharps are incredibly dangerous without proper storage. They present a risk to adults children and pets particularly when disposed of in public areas. That’s why you should place sharps in the correct container immediately after use. Sharps represent an obvious risk of cutting and puncture wounds which could lead to secondary infection. But the real risk is in what they may be carrying. Used sharps can hold blood-borne diseases that could pass on to others. Life-altering diseases such as HIV Hep-B and Hep-C can be carried by sharps. A single injury from a used sharp could change a victim’s life forever. For this reason sharps should never be placed in standard waste disposal whether in household waste public refuse or flushed down the toilet. Especially in built-up areas discarded sharps present huge problems. When not disposed of correctly sharps can find their way into parks school playgrounds public toilets and children’s sandpits. Municipal authorities now spend thousands in clean-up activities targeted toward biomedical waste.
Above all else it’s important that you take responsibility for any sharps you use. Please keep the above in mind when using sharps to do your bit for your local community. If you believe you may be struggling with drug abuse consider whether you need to attend a rehab center.