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Answers to Your Sharps Disposal Questions

May 15, 2023
Closeup image of a gloved hand throwing a used syringe into a red sharps container on a light blue background

If you’re looking for information on how to properly dispose of sharps, then you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll cover what a sharp is, the dangers of improper disposal, and best practices for safe disposal.

What is a Sharp?

In medical waste, the term “sharps” refers to any object that has sharp edges or points that could puncture the skin. Some examples of sharps include syringes, lancets, hypodermic needles, auto-injectors, connection needles, infusion sets, and disposable scalpels.

What Are the Dangers?

The most obvious danger of sharps is the risk of being poked or cut, but they can also contain pathogens and contaminants that could cause harm to a person’s health and the environment if disposed of without being treated.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) estimates that about 6 million healthcare workers are at risk of being exposed to bloodborne pathogens from injuries caused by sharps. Improper disposal of sharps is also harmful to the environment as pathogens can contaminate the soil, waterways, and atmosphere. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires proper segregation and disposal of sharps waste to prevent such contamination.

How Are Toxins and Bacteria Destroyed?

Steam autoclaving exposes sharps waste to pressurized steam for 40-45 minutes to deactivate bacteria and viruses. Another method is the incineration of chemotherapy sharps, which renders toxic organic substances in the sharps inert, allowing for safe disposal without harm to people or the environment.

Best Practices for Safe Disposal

Safe disposal of used sharps is crucial for staff, patients, the public, and the environment. Follow these best practices:

  • Follow OSHA guidelines as the primary source of information about sharps disposal.
  • Wear gloves when handling sharps and remove them properly after disposal.
  • Dispose of sharps in designated waste containers and contact a medical waste disposal provider for assistance.
  • Place collection containers in the room where sharps are used and minimize the distance between the use location and disposal container.
  • Label and seal filled sharps containers to ensure the safety of medical staff and patients.
  • Use a reputable medical waste disposal service to remain compliant with all medical waste laws and ensure the safety of the public and the environment.

At GreenServ, we’ve been providing compliant medical waste disposal in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas since 2012. We can provide medical waste collection containers for your specific medical services. Call us at 662-533-0940 or complete the form on this page for answers to your sharps disposal questions and any other medical waste questions you may have. Our friendly experts are standing by!

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