Our question this week was:
Hi Dr. Debra – I love your site and the wonderful information you give on the site! It has really helped lots of my friends and their cats!
I have a question for you. My cat is a diabetic (just diagnosed 1 month ago) and gets insulin shots twice daily. She is doing great. How do I dispose of her syringes and needles?
Hilary K., Rochester VT
Hi Hilary – thanks for your email. I’m glad to hear your diabetic cat is doing well. The rules and regulations vary from state to state and county to county. You can do one of two things. You can ask your vet or call your county health department to make sure you are abiding by their rules. They dispose of needles and syringes from veterinarians/pets the same as physicals/humans although the associated risks are extremely different.
For most circumstances like this, the amounts of “hazardous” wastes that you are creating are small and you can put them in your regular trash. This conforms to some local regulations. (See below). I’d recommend that you place them in hazard containers that seal off the needles to minimize any change of someone getting punctured from a needle. These containers are often red and seal closed. Your vet may have them and be willing to sell them to you.
Rules may vary by state. Go to http://www.safeneedledisposal.org/resslaws.html and look up information on Your state.
For example, if you live in the state of Florida, the regulations include:
“Place needles, syringes, lancets, and other sharp objects into hard plastic or metal containers with a screw-on top or other tightly securable lid (e.g., an empty paint can or liquid-detergent container). Before discarding, reinforce the top with heavy-duty tape. Do not put sharp objects in any container you plan to recycle. Do not use clear plastic or glass containers. Check with your local waste collection service to make sure these disposal procedures are acceptable in your county. All sharps should be disposed of in rigid puncture-resistant containers such as liquid detergent bottles, bleach bottles or metal containers.”
If you live in Ohio – the rule reads:
“A person who generates sharp wastes (“sharps” include lancets, hypodermic needles, syringes, scalpel blades, and non-household glass articles that have been broken) for the purpose of their own care or treatment in their home is considered a home sharps user. For example, an insulin dependent diabetic or a terminally ill person being cared for by family members and given injections. Disposing of loose needles and syringes into the household waste poses a risk to family members and solid waste workers who must handle the waste. While Ohio law allows the disposal of sharps used by an individual for purposes of his/her own care or treatment in their home into the solid waste stream, it is important to recognize the hazard they pose to solid waste workers. Solid waste workers handle waste containers without knowledge of the contents. It is recommended that home-generated sharps be packaged into a rigid container and marked with the wording sharps prior to disposal into the solid waste stream. Common household containers which meet the description of rigid are: liquid detergent & bleach bottles, 2 liter pop bottles, and coffee cans if the lid is securely taped to the can. In addition, the person may contact their local health department or hospital to inquire if they would accept the home generated sharps.”
Check out the rules in your state.
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