Nationwide, millions of seniors with diabetes and other medical conditions use medical sharps such as needles, syringes and lancets to manage their daily healthcare at home. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, more than 3 billion medical sharps are discarded annually outside of formal health care settings. California law prohibits the disposal of sharps waste in the regular trash or recycling bin. Improper disposal of sharps waste poses a risk to children, pets and trash collectors who may accidentally get stuck by a needle, syringe or lancet and be exposed to a disease such as hepatitis, tetanus or HIV.
To help residents live safely, the County of San Diego, along with other local jurisdictions and businesses, has been doing its part to collect home-generated sharps and promote safe methods of disposal.
Residents of unincorporated communities may take their home-generated medical waste sharps in closed, rigid, leak-proof containers no larger than 2 Liters (1/2 gallon) to approved residential sharps collection drop boxes at eleven different locations across the county. The sharps disposal kiosks, located outside Sheriff and fire stations help to prevent the public health risks created by the improper disposal of used sharps and are generally available to the public 24-hours a day. They provide a safe, convenient and free option for residents of the unincorporated areas. A list of County of San Diego kiosk locations can be found at www.sdhhw.org.
Other locations for disposal of used sharps include Household Hazardous Waste collection facilities in Ramona, Poway, Vista, La Mesa, San Diego, Escondido, El Cajon, Chula Vista, and Coronado; City of San Diego police stations; and EDCO and Waste Management trash transfer stations (for their customers). To find a safe sharps disposal location, residents can go to www.wastefreesd.org or call 1-877-R-1-EARTH.
In addition, mail-back disposal programs are available that allow seniors to mail their used sharps to licensed disposal facilities. Such programs may charge a fee for this service. Residents can check with their health care provider or pharmacist, or search the yellow pages or online to find a mail back program convenient for them.
Used sharps are never to be put in the trash or recycling bins, flushed down the toilet, left on streets or in parks, or anywhere else where they could injure someone. Help San Diego County residents live safely by properly disposing of used medical sharps.
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