NH DHHS - NH Observes Safe Disposal of Household Medical Sharps Month

NH Observes Safe Disposal of Household Medical Sharps Month

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in collaboration with the Legislative Commission to Develop Alternatives to the Disposal of Medical Sharps in Household Waste, are raising awareness about safe disposal of medical sharps. Medical sharps are a type of medical waste that includes needles and syringes. Governor John Lynch recently signed a proclamation declaring October Safe Disposal of Medical Sharps Month.

“Proper and safe disposal of sharps is critically important to ensure people are protected from potential needle stick injuries or exposure to blood borne pathogens,” said NH Public Health Director Dr. José Montero.

Each year, approximately 8 million people across the country use more than 3 billion needles, syringes, and lancets, also known as sharps, to manage medical conditions at home. Careless disposal of this medical waste that can carry human and animal diseases has the potential to threaten the health and safety of New Hampshire residents.

The legislatively mandated Medical Sharps Commission has been meeting since 2008 to study potential options for the collection and safe disposal of home-generated medical sharps. The Commission is currently developing solutions and recommendations to the medical sharps problem. Part of its report will include educational awareness. A final report is due in November.

DHHS in partnership with New Hampshire hospitals sponsors an outreach program for safe disposal of syringes known as the New Hampshire Syringe Access Initiative. Participating hospitals accept properly contained syringes from the community.

The following medical facilities are currently participating:
· Franklin Regional Hospital, Franklin
· Frisbie Memorial Hospital, Rochester
· Lakes Region General Hospital, Laconia
· Littleton Regional Hospital, Littleton
· New London Hospital, New London
· Southern NH Medical Center, Nashua
· St. Joseph Hospital, Nashua
· Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital, Colebrook
· Weeks Medical Center, Lancaster

The Department of Environmental Services (DES) regulates the disposal of household generated sharps. Household generated sharps may be disposed of in the solid waste, provided:

1) Sharps are enclosed inside rigid, puncture-resistant containers.
2) Containers encasing sharps are sealed and labeled “not for recycling.”

DES recommends the following for safe disposal of medical sharps:

· Using certain household containers i.e. plastic bleach and laundry detergent containers are satisfactory to ensure safe disposal
· Using containers that are designed specifically for the disposal of sharps
· Prior to placing a container of sharps in the trash, reinforce the lid with heavy-duty tape and place the container in a securely fastened plastic bag

For more information on the Syringe Access Initiative, contact Denise Rondeau, DHHS at (603) 271-0290. For additional information on DES’ infectious waste rules contact the DES Solid Waste Management Bureau at (603) 271-2925.

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