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Medication and Home Health Care Disposal

DISPOSAL TIPS FOR HOME HEALTH CARE

YOU can help prevent injury, illness and pollution by following some simple steps when you dispose of the sharp objects and contaminated materials you use in administering health care in your home. You should place needles, syringes, lancets, and other sharp objects in a hard-plastic or metal container with a screw-on or tightly secured lid.

Many containers found in the household will do, or you may purchase containers specifically designed for the disposal of medical waste sharps. Before discarding a container, be sure to reinforce the lid with heavy-duty tape. Do not put sharp objects in any container you plan to recycle or return to a store, and do not use glass or clear plastic containers (see additional information below). Finally, make sure that you keep all containers with sharp objects out of reach of children and pets.

We also recommend that soiled bandages, disposable sheets, and medical gloves be placed in securely fashioned plastic bags before you put them in the garbage can with your other trash.

EPA promotes all recycling activities, and therefore encourages you to discard medical waste sharps in sturdy, non-recyclable containers, when possible. If a recyclable container is used to dispose of medical waste sharps, make sure that you don’t mix the container with other materials to be recycled. Since the sharps impair a container’s recyclability, a container holding your medical waste sharps properly belongs with regular household trash. You may even want to label the container, “NOT FOR RECYCLING.” These steps go a long way toward protecting workers and others from possible injury. (Although disposing of recyclable containers removes them from the recycling stream, the expected impact is minimal.)

For additional copies of these disposal tips, call the RCRA Hotline Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. EST at 1-800-424-9346; for hearing impaired, call TDD 1-800-553-7672.