MIDDLESEX COUNTY – Middlesex County recently unveiled a program to provide ways for residents to safely dispose of home-generated medical waste such as needles syringes and lancets.
“If sharps are not thrown away properly, a public hazard can be created,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Ronald G. Rios, chair of the Public Health and Safety Committee. “Uncapped syringes and those that have not been placed in a safe container pose risks to both household members and solid waste personnel.”
Rios added: “This program also will benefit residents who may have difficulty travelling to a hospital, whether they have no transportation or are homebound because of a disability.”
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 8 million people in the United States use more than three billion needles, syringes and lancets (also called sharps) to manage medical conditions at home. The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services states home generators of medical waste may account for the use of up to 700,000 sharps daily in New Jersey.
Three ways to dispose of needles properly in order to markedly reduce potential exposure and needle stick risks are the Hospital Safe Syringe Disposal Program, the Household Waste Program and the Physician Program.
Hospital Safe Syringe Disposal Program
Residents can obtain a free sharps container from a hospital that participates in the program. When the container is full, residents can bring it back to the hospital and a new one will be provided.
Participating area hospitals are:
- St. Peter’s University Hospital, New Brunswick, 1-732-745-8600, ext. 8282
- JFK Medical Center, Edison, 1-732-321-7539
- University Medical Center at Princeton, Princeton, 1-609-497-4266
- Somerset Medical Center, Somerville, 1-908-685-2200 ext. 3258
For additional hospitals, download the Safe Syringe Disposal Guide at http://www.state.nj.us/health/eoh/phss/syringe.pdf
Household Waste Program
Residents can safely dispose of syringes in their household trash by utilizing the Household Waste Program method. The method consists of four steps:
1. Obtain a rigid container
- Use an empty laundry detergent bottle or other rigid container with a screw-on cap to dispose of needles and syringes.
- Check with your local pharmacy to see if they sell commercial containers specially designed to hold sharps for disposal in your household trash.
2. Label the container
- Place a large label with a warning on the empty container (Example: SYRINGES – DO NOT RECYCLE)
- Labels are available at your local health department.
3. Seal the container
Seal the bottle tightly with its original lid and wrap duct tape over the lid after you fill the bottle with syringes.
4. Dispose of the container
- Dispose of the tightly sealed, full container of syringes in your household garbage.
- DO NOT place the container in your recycling bin.
Residents also can ask their physicians if they will take used syringes once they are properly placed in a container.
Rios said, “It is important to dispose of household medical waste properly. Residents can help to prevent needle stick accidents that can hurt people, pets, and wildlife; save money for the community by reducing waste disposal costs; and keep the environment safe and clean.”
For additional information about this program, contact the Middlesex County Public Health Department at 1-732-745-3100.
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