People who use needles at home need to be aware of the risks associated with improperly discarding used needles.
The Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal, comprised of medical, government and waste association and private sector companies, is working with the Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate and promote alternative disposal methods for used needles and other medical sharps.
The Coalition has identified several types of safe disposal programs for in-home needle use. Instead of placing sharps in the trash, people who use needles at home are encouraged to use one of the following disposal methods:
- In-home needle users can take their own sharps containers collections sites such as doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies, health departments, or fire stations.
- In-home needle users can use a mail-back program. Used needles are put in special containers, which are returned by mail to a collection site for proper disposal.
- In-home needle users can enroll in a Syringe Exchange Programs (SEP). This type of program enables needle users to safely exchange used needles for new needles.
- There are companies that offer products that enable in-home needle users to destroy needles at home. These devices sever, burn, or melt the needle, making it safe for disposal.
There are a number of resources for in-home needle users to contact for assistance in properly disposing of used needles:
Local solid waste departments or public health departments can assist in-home needle users in determining the correct disposal method for their particular area. For a list of all state health and solid waste department and state health department contacts visit:
Local healthcare providers or local pharmacists may offer disposal. Or they may know of safe disposal programs in the area.
The Coalition for Safe Community Needle Disposal can be reached at 1-800-643-1643. The Coalition can help with determining the availability of safe disposal programs in particular areas.
Most importantly, in-home needle users should know the in-home needle disposal laws in their area. The Safe Community Needle Disposal web site provides state-by-state and territory-by-territory summaries of the laws and regulations affecting disposal of used needles. The site is easy-to-use and designed for anyone interested in safe needle disposal.