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FDA Launches Website on Safe Disposal of Used Needles and Other "Sharps"
Date:11/8/2011

easing. In addition, pets are being treated in homes and livestock are being treated on farms, which are also contributing to the increased number of sharps outside of veterinary hospitals.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 3 billion needles and other sharps are used in homes in the United States each year.

Sharps disposal guidelines and programs vary by jurisdiction. For example, in 2008, California passed legislation banning throwing needles in household trash. Florida, New Jersey and New York have established community drop off programs at hospitals and other health care facilities. People using sharps at home or work or while traveling should check with their local trash removal services or health department to find out about disposal methods available in their area.

For the safe disposal of needles and other sharps used outside of the health care setting, the FDA recommends the following:

DO:

  • 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
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SOURCE U.S. Food and Drug Administration
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