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Sharps Users Are Asked To Be Careful Where Used Ones Are Placed

Wisconsin DNR

The Wisconsin DNR would like to see better compliance where sharps users place their used needles and such.

December is Sharps Awareness Month.

The DNR has a new interactive sharps collection site map to help connect people with sites near them.

The DNR reminds residents that medical sharps, such as needles, syringes and lancets, cannot be disposed of in the trash or recycling bins.

DNR Waste Diversion Coordinator Jennifer Semrau, says there's a proper place to put sharps and the garbage or recycling bins is not that place...

"You can cause injuries to collection and sanitation workers in the collection process. Especially if they're put in the recycling stream. There is hand sorting that occurs at nearly every recycling facility in the state and that can expose these workers to needle stick injuries..."

Semrau says users often put their sharps in bleach or detergent bottles. Those bottles have rigid sides which protect others from getting stuck with a needle. But Semrau says what happens is those bottles get placed in the recycling stream instead of being dropped off at a proper disposal site...

"..We recently surveyed all the recycling facilities in Wisconsin to find out what their biggest sources of contamination are. 40 percent of recycling facilities identified sharps as one of their top contaminants..."

Semrau says workers who experience a needlestick incident typically undergo months costly testing for infectious diseases such as hepatitis B and human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. She hopes users place sharps in a designated container. The alternative is a rigid, puncture-resistant plastic container with a secure lid, such as a detergent bottle. Labeling containers with "biohazard," "infectious waste" or "sharps" ensures the closed container is handled correctly. For detergent bottles or similar plastic containers, adding "do not recycle" avoids confusion.

We have a link here where you can find sites in the region that collect sharps for disposal.

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