Q:

What is the proper way to dispose of medical sharps?

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Quick Answer

To properly dispose of medical sharps, such as needles, syringes and lancets, place the sharp object in a sharps disposal container, and dispose of the container following the guidelines or programs available in your area, explains the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available disposal methods vary by state and may include a mail-back program, household hazardous waste collection site, residential special waste pick-up service or drop box or supervised collection site.

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Full Answer

To determine the disposal method available in your area, consult your local trash removal services or health department, states the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A drop box or supervised collection site that accepts sharps containers may include medical waste facilities, hospitals, doctor's offices, pharmacies and police or fire department stations. Some sites may charge a fee. In some areas it is possible to mail FDA-approved sharps containers to a disposal facility for a fee. It is important to follow directions on how to properly label the container before mailing it in.

Pharmacies, medical supply companies, providers and online sources typically provide FDA-approved sharps disposal containers, states the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Place medical sharps into the container immediately after use. In the event no FDA-approved container is available, place the sharp object in a heavy-duty plastic,leak-resistant household container, such as an empty laundry detergent bottle, and dispose of the container using one of the methods listed above.

Another program available for the disposal of needles is the Syringe Exchange Program, where individuals can exchange used needles for new needles, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. To apply for the program, contact the North American Syringe Exchange Network.

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