Safe Needle Disposal: What You Need to Know

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Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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Proper disposal of sharp medical objects—like syringes, needles, or lancets—is important to prevent injury. The improper disposal of needles or sharps is dangerous and can increase the risk for a needle stick injury, which can spread blood-borne diseases like HIV or various forms of hepatitis.

Many states have laws regarding sharp disposal, so it’s important to understand proper disposal practices.

What are examples of sharps that require proper disposal?

Examples of types of medications that will require proper disposal include the following:

How should I dispose of my sharps?

What type of container can I use to dispose of my sharps?

You can use one of the following types of containers to dispose of your sharps or needle-containing products in your household:

If you use an empty household container, be sure that you are following FDA guidelines. Proper sharps containers should be able to be properly closed and stand on its own, leak resistant, made of heavy-duty plastic, and should be properly labeled to warn of hazardous waste.

You can purchase an FDA-cleared sharps container without a prescription or you can ask your doctor to write a prescription for you so that your local pharmacy can try to bill your insurance to see if it’s covered.  

Does each state have their own guidelines regarding sharps disposal?

Yes. If you have questions or would like more information specific to your state call Safe Needle Disposal at 1-800-643-1643 or e-mail at safeneedledisposal@needymeds.org.  

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