Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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Jan. 21, 2004

County Issues Guidelines for Safe Disposal of Household Sharps

Many individuals with serious health conditions manage their health care at home. Home health care may create a large amount of medical waste that requires special handling to prevent injury, illness and pollution. These types of waste can include syringes used to inject insulin and lancets used to test blood glucose, commonly known as "sharps."

Home sharps must be properly disposed of in order to protect solid waste workers, trash haulers, and sewage treatment plant operators against injury or disease. All used needles, syringes and lancets should be placed in a puncture-proof plastic container with a tight-fitting screw top. As long as the waste comes from homes, hotels, motels, campsites, or other residential sources, it is legal to dispose of these wastes with household trash.

Until recently, the Oswego County Health Department provided free sharps containers to local pharmacies for safe disposal of needles. The free container distribution program has been discontinued. Sharps containers may be purchased from pharmacies, or residents can use a plastic bleach or detergent bottle.

With a permanent marker, clearly label the container with the words "Contains Sharps." When the container is full, screw the lid on tight, and tape the top shut with duct tape. Keep this container out of reach of children at all times.

Filled containers may be included in with other regular household trash, or may be dropped off at the Oswego Hospital in Oswego, or the Andrew Michaud Nursing Home or A.L. Lee Memorial Hospital in Fulton. People dropping off sharps containers at the nursing home should use the Park Street entrance. For more information about the sharps collection program at Oswego Hospital, contact Dan Bucher at 349-5582.

Containers filled with used needles should not be included with recyclables. Workers can be injured if a container is punctured or crushed or if the needles fall out. Do not place needles or other household medical waste in coffee cans because the plastic lids come off easily and the sharps can fall out. Plastic soft drink bottles, aluminum cans, other recyclable containers shouldn't be used to dispose of needles. Loose needles should never be placed in the trash.

For more information about proper disposal of sharps, call the Oswego County Division of Solid Waste, phone 591-9200.

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