New site aims to help individuals understand the public health risks created by improper disposal of used sharps.
The FDA has launched a new Web site to educate patients and caregivers on the safe disposal of needles and other sharps that are used at home, at work, and while traveling.
The site is designed to help individuals understand the public health risks created by improper disposal of used sharps and how users should safely dispose of them. The term “sharps” refers medical devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut the skin, including hypodermic needles and syringes used to administer medication, fingerstick devices to collect blood for testing, needle and tubing systems for infusing intravenous and subcutaneous medicines, and connection needles used for home hemodialysis.
After being used, many sharps end up in home and public trash cans or flushed down toilets, which puts individuals such as sanitation workers, sewage treatment workers, janitors, housekeepers, family members, and children at risk for needle stick injuries or infection with viruses such as Hepatitis B and C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
“Safe disposal of used needles and other sharps is a public health priority,” said Jeffrey Shuren, MD, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “This website provides information about how to keep used sharps from ending up in places where they could harm people.”
With more diseases and conditions such as diabetes, cancer, allergies, arthritis and HIV being managed outside of hospitals and doctors’ offices, the number of sharps used in homes and work offices is increasing. The US Environmental Protection Agency estimates that more than 3 billion needles and other sharps are used in homes in the United States each year.
The FDA offers the following recommendations for safe disposal of sharps outside of the health care setting:
For more information: