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Safe Disposal of Sharps — Middlesex-London Health Unit

What are sharps?

Sharps are items that are potentially contaminated with blood or body fluids and are capable of causing a cut or puncture in the skin. Sharps include:

  • Used syringes with needles attached
  • Used needles
  • Used razor blades
  • Broken glass that has come into contact with blood or other body fluids
  • Used crack smoking stems
  • Lancets

Why should sharps be handled safely?

  • Sharps can contain blood from other people and this blood can carry blood-borne infections like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.
  • HIV can live on a needle for up to several hours. Hepatitis B and C can live on a needle for up to 3 weeks.
  • Accidental puncture wounds from a sharp can allow the entry of infection through the skin, resulting in blood-borne infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can injure themselves with a contaminated sharp object including:

  • Household members when sharps are used by someone in the household
  • Neighbourhood children who contact sharps while playing or exploring
  • Workers who pick up garbage waste that contains sharps.

How should I handle my own sharps in a safe manner?

  • Do not recap, clip, bend or break syringes or needles that are ready for disposal.
  • Sharps should be packaged in a specialized sharps container. If you don’t have a specialized sharps container use a hard plastic container or metal can with a tight fitting lid. The lid should be reinforced with tape, and the container should be marked “biohazard”.
  • Glass containers, cardboard containers or cardboard boxes should not be used for disposal of sharps.

Outdoor stationary needle bin locations:

  • 580 Dundas St (London and Middlesex Housing Corporation)
  • 130 King St (Covent Garden Market, Market Lane)
  • Forks of the Thames
  • 459 York St (Mission Services)
  • 241 Simcoe St (London and Middlesex Housing Corporation)
  • Victoria Park
  • 186 King St (Regional HIV/AIDS Connection)
  • London Police Service (underground sallyport)
  • Bathurst St. at Clarence
  • Bathurst St. at the Salvation Army Centre of Hope
  • Municipal Parking Lot (Queens and Adelaide)
  • Municipal Parking Lot (Queens and Lyle)
  • Campbell Park
  • Municipal Parking Lot (King and Adelaide – near Tolpuddle Housing Co-op)
  • Piccadilly Park
  • Watson Park
  • Harris Park (bandshell)
  • Carfrae Park (at Ridout St)
  • Carfrae Bridge (Labatts)
  • Under the bridge overpass at Adelaide street on York Street
  • At the end of Clarence on Bathurst Street
  • Parkett at the corner of William and Horton streets

What should I do if I come across a needle in the community?

If needles are found on public property, please call the City of London at 519-661-2489 ext. 4965. This phone line is answered 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

How should I handle and dispose of found needles or other sharps?

  • Use caution. Treat all found needles and other sharps as contaminated. Do not try to put the cap back on a needle.
  • If you do not have a specialized sharps disposal container, you will need a non-breakable, puncture-proof container with a lid (e.g. a hard plastic container or tin can).
  • Do not touch the sharp with your bare hands.
  • Use tongs, pliers or tweezers to pick up the sharp. It is best to also wear gloves. Always hold sharp or cutting edges down and away from you.
  • Put the container on a stable surface next to the sharp. Do not hold the container in your hand when placing the sharp inside. If picking up a needle, put the needle in the container point down. Do not force sharps into the container or overfill it.
  • Close the container securely.
  • Wash hands with soap and water and/or an alcohol-based hand rub after all handling sharps, containers, used equipment, and after removing gloves.
  • Teach children to never touch sharps but to tell an adult what they found and where.

Can I place sharps in normal garbage collection?

No. Never dispose of sharps (used needles, syringes and lancets) in your garbage or recycling box.
Only broken glass or other items with sharp or jagged edges that have not come into contact with blood or body fluids can be discarded for normal garbage collection. These items must be completely sealed inside a cardboard box and clearly labeled as “Caution – Broken Glass” for collectors.

How do I dispose of sharps?

  • Businesses and Health Care Providers
    Businesses and Health Care Providers must obtain proper sharps disposal containers and arrange for a contract for disposal from a biomedical waste disposal company.
  • People with diabetes
    People with diabetes who inject insulin should talk to their pharmacy regarding their needle disposal program.
  • People who inject drugs or use crack smoking equipment
    People who inject drugs or use crack smoking equipment must package sharps in a hard plastic container or metal tin can with a tight fitting lid and mark it “biohazard”. Sharps containers can be obtained from the Counterpoint Needle Exchange. Used needles/syringes and crack smoking stems can be dropped off to the Counterpoint Needle Exchange or placed in one of the outdoor stationary needle bins pictured and listed below.

Counterpoint Needle Exchange

  • Regional HIV/AIDS Connection
    30-186 King Street, London, ON N6A 1C7
    519-434-1601
    Monday – Friday
    9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit
    50 King Street London
    519-663-5446
    Monday – Thursday: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
    Friday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Middlesex-London Health Unit – Kenwick Mall
    51 Front Street East, Strathroy
    519-663-5446
    Every Thursday from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. Evening hours available, call for times.

All services of the Counterpoint Needle Exchange are free and confidential. Services also include counseling, free condoms and other equipment for safer drug use.

What should I do if I am exposed to blood while handling a sharp?

If you are exposed to blood while handling a sharp, contact or visit a health care provider as soon as possible. The health care provider will provide advice about the need for blood tests, vaccinations and/or medications. The Middlesex-London Health Unit can also be called for advice (work hours 519-663-5317 ext. 2330; after hours 519-663-5317 – option 2).

Date of creation: April 15, 2013
Last modified on: October 29, 2019

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