Safely Using Sharps at Home, at Work and on Travel
Sharps is a medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin. They may be used at home, at work, and while traveling to manage the medical conditions of people or their pets, including allergies, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, infertility, migraines, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, blood clotting disorders, and psoriasis.
Examples of sharps include:
- Needles – hollow needles used to inject drugs (medication) under the skin.
- Syringes – devices used to inject medication into or withdraw fluid from the body.
- Lancets, also called “fingerstick” devices – instruments with a short, two-edged blade used to get drops of blood for testing. Lancets are commonly used in the treatment of diabetes.
- Auto Injectors, including epinephrine and other products with a sharp permanently affixed designed for single use – single use pre-filled with fluid medication products with a sharp or needle permanently attached designed to be self-injected into the body one time.
- Infusion sets – tubing systems with a needle used to deliver drugs to the body.
- Connection needles/sets – needles that connect to a tube used to transfer fluids in and out of the body. This is generally used for patients on home hemodialysis.
Disposing of Home-Generated Sharps is Simple
- Do not throw loose sharps in trash
- Do not put sharps in recycling
- Do not flush sharps down the toilet
- Always keep sharps out of reach of children
- Immediately place used needles and other sharps in a sharps disposal container to reduce the risk of needle-sticks, cuts or punctures from loose sharps.
- Use an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container, if possible. If an FDA-cleared container is not available, some organizations and community guidelines recommend using a heavy-duty plastic household container with a closeable lid (e.g., laundry detergent container) as an alternative.
- Make sure that if a household disposal container is used, it has the basic features of a good disposal container.
- Be prepared – carry a portable sharps disposal container or needle clipper for travel.
- Contact your local waste management or public health department (listed in the county and city government section of your phone book) to find out about sharps disposal programs in your area.
- Ask your health care provider, veterinarian, local hospital or pharmacist: Where and how you can obtain an FDA-compliant sharps disposal container
For more information:
A comprehensive list of Los Angeles County sharps disposal sites and events.
- LA County Medical Sharps Collection Sites
- Safe Needle Disposal Search
- LA County Permanent Collection Centers
- LA County Monthly Collection Events
- LA County Sheriff’s Department Collection Sites
- LA County City Policy Offices (list of sites and links to come)
- LA County S.A.F.E. Centers
- LA County Walgreen Safe Medicine Disposal Kiosks
Contact the site and event organizers to ensure that they accept sharps.