Insulin Syringe Disposal
At-Home Disposal of Lancets and Insulin Syringes
Accidental needle or medical sharp sticks can spread infectious disease and cause injury. Regular blood sugar checks and insulin injections can add up to a significant number of used sharps that require proper disposal. Follow these tips to safeguard your family, community, and environment.
- Know the Law. Some states and municipalities have specific requirements for medical waste disposal. Your public works department or trash hauler can offer specifics.
- Have the Right Tools. Purchase a puncture-proof container designed for sharps disposal from your local drugstore or medical supply retailer. As an alternative, you can look around your home for a puncture-resistant container with an opening that can be easily and securely sealed, such as bleach bottles and coffee cans with a hole cut into the top. Don't choose glass due to the risk of breakage.
- Mark It Clearly. Label your sharps container "Used Medical Sharps—Do Not Recycle" with a waterproof marker so everyone who comes in contact with it will handle it appropriately.
- Use It! Put it where you'll use it—right away. Never leave a needle or syringe laying around for later disposal.
- Don't Get Stuck. After using a lancet or syringe, don't bend, cut, break, or recap the needle. Place them directly into the disposal container to avoid injury.
- Seal It. When your container is full, put the top on tightly and seal it completely with duct tape or another heavy-duty adhesive.
- Talk to Your Pharmacist. Your local pharmacy or hospital may offer a syringe bring-back or sharps disposal program that ships sharps directly to a medical waste handling company and keep them out of municipal landfills and incinerators where they have the potential to cause injury to workers.
- Dump as Directed. Find out if your municipality has specific guidelines for medical waste, and follow them. If sharps should be disposed of in the garbage, make sure your container goes into your regular garbage (not the recycling) for disposal.
Reviewed by Francine Kaufman, MD. 4/08
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