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Hypodermic Needles & Other Sharps - Frequently Asked Questions
What are "sharps"?
Sharps include lancets, hypodermic needles, syringes, blood vials, and scalpel blades. On the average, Americans use over one billion sharps in their homes each year.
Who uses sharps?
Besides establishments like doctor and dentist offices, people use sharps in the home to administer health care (e.g., insulin injections for diabetics).
What are some problems associated with improper disposal of sharps?
If sharps are not disposed of properly, they pose a very serious threat as a puncture hazard, and also as a vector to transmit diseases, such as hepatitis, HIV, and tetanus. Improperly disposed sharps are also a significant ecological threat, as images of medical waste washing up on the shores of beaches all to eloquently illustrate.
How much does this service cost?
There is no charge for this service, and it is extended to all El Dorado County residents (the STR also accepts sharps containers from Nevada residents of the South Lake Tahoe area). There's also no paperwork to fill out.
How can I get a sharps container?
Sharps containers can be purchased at most pharmacies where hypodermic needles and other sharps are purchased. What are the requirements of sharps containers?
Homemade sharps containers are not acceptable. Compliant OSHA containers with labels can be obtained at pharmacies. Containers that are used to collect contaminated sharps must meet the requirements set forth in
OSHA Regulations (Standards - 29 CFR) 1910.1030. OSHA compliant sharps containers are:
Rigid and puncture resistant,
b. Leak proof,
c. Capable of being readily and securely sealed without coming into contact with sharps materials, and
d. Clearly marked with
approved labeling . How does one dispose of their sharps properly?
When purchasing needles or syringes from your pharmacy, also purchase mail back needle storage containers or approved medical waste containers. Compliant containers are bright red and have the large "biohazard" symbol displayed.
Please Note: To take advantage of El Dorado County sponsored free sharps disposal, all sharps MUST be in approved containers Home made sharps containers will NOT be accepted at El Dorado County HHW events, the MRF or by STR.
When the container is three-fourths full, close and seal it. Bring the container to one of the following locations:
Thank you for your participation in this program, and in making our County a safer one. For more information regarding sharps and their proper handling and disposal, please contact Environmental Management at 530-621-5300.