Needle waste from homes has become very common and have been found in residential waste streams which presents a risk of injury to the waste disposal workers and the site operators at landfills and recycling locations across the nation. According to the documentation of these events the data shows that the risk of a needlestick injury is scarce but still a notable risk to the personnel. When they get a needlestick injury they have a chance to get either HIV, or Hepatitis B or C with Hepatitis B having the largest chance of being transmitted. This is a large cost for these businesses for treatment and monitoring; with a price tag of more than two million dollars. There are concerns about the increasing chance of needlestick injuries due to aging population, confusion around proper disposal, and lack of access to take-back programs. We all need to take precautions when disposing of sharps to keep these workers safe!
To properly dispose of your sharps it is suggested that a large opaque container (ex. a large laundry detergent jug, or a sharps container) is used to store used sharps. The container should be disposed of when 3/4 full and sealed with its own lid and duct tape, and then labeled “DO NOT RECYCLE”. Then it can be placed in with household trash. As a reminder even if it is a needle with a retractable end, it should always be treated like any other sharp and disposed of properly. Many states have different procedures and regulations for disposing of sharps so please be sure to follow all guidelines in your state or county for disposal.