Geni Wren This week, the FDA has launched a new website on the safe disposal of used needles and other “sharps” that are used both in human and veterinary medicine, as well as by consumers for self-administration of medications, and livestock producers. This has increased the volume of needles and related products used outside of medical and veterinary medical facilities. The website will help people understand the public health risks created by improperly disposing of used sharps and how users should safely dispose of them.
In veterinary medicine sharps can include needles, scalpel blades, lancets, staples and other sharp instruments that can cause injury as well as exposure to zoonotic pathogens or dangerous drugs or other materials. Veterinarians, their staff and livestock producers are particularly at-risk for needle sticks or injuries by these instruments due to the nature of their animal patients and working facilities. Veterinarians should make sure their livestock-producer clients handle and dispose of sharps correctly.
FDA offers some do’s and don’t’s for sharps disposal. Please visit the website for more information.
- Immediately place used sharps in an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container to reduce the risk of needle-sticks, cuts or punctures from loose sharps. (A list of products and companies with FDA-cleared sharps disposal containers is available on the FDA website. Although the products on the list have received FDA clearance, all products may not be currently available on the market.)
- If an FDA-cleared container is not available, some associations and community guidelines recommend using a heavy-duty plastic household container as an alternative. The container should be leak-resistant, remain upright during use and have a tight fitting, puncture-resistant lid, such as a plastic laundry detergent container.
- Keep sharps and sharps disposal containers out of reach of children and pets.
- Call your local trash or public health department in your phone book to find out about sharps disposal programs in your area.
- Follow your community guidelines for getting rid of your sharps disposal container.
- Throw loose sharps into the trash.
- Flush sharps down the toilet.
- Put sharps in a recycling bin; they are not recyclable.
- Try to remove, bend, break or recap sharps used by another person.
- Attempt to remove a needle without a needle clipper device.