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Safe Sharps Disposal

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has issued the following guidelines for household-generated sharps:

The handling and disposal of used home-generated medical sharps such as needles, syringes, and lancets, are exempted from regulation in Illinois’ Potentially Infectious Medical Waste law. However, these materials still need to be handled safely. Illinois EPA needs your help in ensuring that medical sharps are disposed of in a manner that minimizes health risks to haulers, recycling and landfill personnel and the community.

Medical sharps should be placed in either a purchased medical sharps container (from a pharmacy or health care provider) or a heavy-plastic or metal container. The containers should be puncture-proof with a tight-fitting lid. Household containers such as plastic detergent bottles can be used if the following precautions are observed: Use heavy-duty tape such as electrical or duct tape to secure the lid to the container, Write the words “Do Not Recycle” on the container with a black permanent marker. This helps to ensure the container will not be inadvertently mingled with recyclable materials, Double-bag the container in a couple of plastic shopping bags (i.e. grocery store bags) once the lid has been taped and the container has been marked, Do not use a clear or glass container, Do not over-stuff the containers with medical sharps (fill only to approximately full). This can increase pressure on the lid and cause a release of the medical sharps.

While waiting for a full container, keep out of reach of children and pets. Always wash your hands after touching medical sharps. Although other methods of disposal are preferred, the container may be placed in your regular trash for disposal once you have followed the precautions mentioned above

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