Safe Needle Disposal (Sharps)
California State law (H&SC §118286) makes it illegal to dispose of home-generated sharps waste (hypodermic needles, pen needles, intravenous needles, lancets, and other devices that are used to penetrate the skin for the delivery of medications) in the trash or recycling containers, and requires that all sharps waste be transported to a collection center in a sharps container approved by the local enforcement agency.
There are numerous options for safe needle disposal (some of which are free) including mail-back programs, drop-off locations. Sharps disposal containers can also be purchased at local drug stores.
Why Is Proper Disposal of Sharps Important?
Improper sharps disposal can affect janitors, maids, pest control workers, groundskeepers, waste management workers, and children or household pets among others. Roughly 25% to 45% of all facilities processing household trash (besides recycling) in California have workers hand-sorting recyclable material out of that trash. A single worker’s on-the-job needlestick can mean weeks of taking drugs to prevent the spread of infection, with side effects including nausea, depression, and extreme fatigue as well as months waiting for expensive periodic tests to reveal whether they contracted life-threatening HIV/AIDs or hepatitis B or C. A 2008 study suggested that "nationwide each year 25%...or roughly 150,000 to 200,000 needlesticks occurred outside the health services industry for a cost of $38 million."