Safe syringe disposal saves money and lowers injury riskAccording to the Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal, about 9 million syringe users nationwide annually administer at least three billion injections outside of health care facilities.
According to the Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal, about 9 million syringe users nationwide annually administer at least three billion injections outside of health care facilities.
To reduce public health risks, Wisconsin laws require all residents to manage sharps safely. It is illegal to put sharps in the trash or with recyclables. Sharps must be packaged safely and treated either at a licensed medical waste incinerator or by methods that render the sharps non-infectious, broken and unable to be reused. The best way to ensure the proper management of medical sharps is to take them to a registered sharps collection station. These stations can be found at many pharmacies and clinics statewide.
However, state and local officials say medical sharps are often found in household garbage and recyclables or improperly flushed down the toilet.
“When these needles end up in the solid waste stream, they can injure waste haulers, landfill operators and recycling workers,” said Bickford. “When they’re flushed down toilets, they may cause problems in plumbing and wastewater treatment plants, or may end up on our beaches.”
Bickford noted that needle stick injuries are one of the most common workers compensation injuries in Wisconsin’s waste collection industry. Needle stick injuries demand costly testing, may cause emotional stress and increase the risk of exposure to infectious diseases such as hepatitis B.
Some of the suggestions mentioned in the publications include:
Take your sharps to a registered sharps collection site. In Douglas County, the only collection site listed on the DNR site is Essentia Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Superior, 3500 Tower Ave.
Never put needles and other sharp medical items in the trash, recycling or medication collection drop boxes.
Reduce the amount of sharps you have to dispose of by clipping the needles off the syringe. The needle-less syringe can go in the household trash.
Buy an inexpensive needle destruction device. The device must both disinfect and break the needle so it can no longer be reused.