Diabetes Blogs

Sharps Disposal: Are You Doing Your Best?

The issue of sharps disposal is a certainty if you are an insulin-dependent diabetic. If you're using self-contained auto-injectors, it's a little easier, but if you're still using regular old syringes, you have to practice more diligently in terms of protecting yourself and others from unnecessary harm. Lancets from glucose testing also need to be disposed of properly, so keeping on top of the regulations is important. 

insulin needlesWhere Do You Live?

In terms of the disposal of sharps and expired or unused medications, every town or municipality will have slightly different rules, regulations, programs, and requirements, so you need to know what's what in your town, city, or region. 

If you're lucky enough to live in a place where sharps and other materials are readily and happily collected at pharmacies, police stations, city dumps, or other facilities, you have it made. 

Do you know what your area's rules and regulations are? Is there a collection program of which you're unaware? If not, would you like to advocate for launching one? 

This link on BD.com offers a clickable map of the United States, with links to each state's needle disposal regulations. However, be advised that this list was last updated in 2011. 

Proper Disposal

According to this page on the website of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the most common infections passed by used needles are Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, and HIV. And on this page, the FDA outlines its home sharps disposal recommendations.

Most users of syringes know not to attempt to break or remove a needle without the use of an approved needle clipping device. 

Meanwhile, some syringe users still employ glass jars or coffee cans for the disposal of sharps, and this practice is universally frowned upon. If you are going to use a household container for sharps disposal, it should be made of impervious, thick plastic, have a tight, screw-on top, and be properly labeled as containing sharps. Liquid laundry containers are best in this regard. When disposing of such containers, you must follow the guidelines and regulations in your community. 

Safety First

When dealing with sharps, safety is always your top concern. As the syringe or lancet user, you need to assure your own safety, of course, as well as the safety of those who live in your household. You also need to consider the safety of those who pick up your household trash, as well as those who may inadvertently come upon your sharps in the trash; this may include children, pets, wild animals, and the homeless. 

Safer systems are always in development, from auto-inject insulin delivery devices to specialized needle disposal systems. 

If you're uncertain regarding the regulations and rules regarding sharps in your community, call the local or state health department for more information, or ask your local pharamacist.

No matter what devices you're using, focus on safety and proper disposal, and you're doing a favor to yourself, your loved ones, and your community.

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