Photo by Flickr user ZaldyImg

Medical sharps are defined as objects capable of puncturing, lacerating or otherwise penetrating the skin. These include syringe needles, lancets, suture needles, scalpel blades and glass waste. While many people in our community use sharps during the treatment of numerous medical ailments, including diabetes, a large number do not know that there is a proper way to dispose of the used sharps.

According to Walton County Chair, and District 4 Commissioner, Sara Comander, her office gets calls on a routine basis from residents seeking information on how to dispose of their medical sharps.

Based on estimates from the American Diabetes Association and the National Institution of Health, 408 residents in Walton County have diabetes requiring insulin injections. This patient population uses and generates an estimated 374,064 syringes and lancets, which represents approximately ten times the sharp waste generated by physician offices in the county.

“It is important for residents, users of sharps and caregivers that assist with treatments involving sharps, to understand the importance of the proper disposal of these materials,” said Comander.

“Sharps should never be disposed of through normal waste disposal methods as doing so puts many Walton County residents at risk of exposure to blood-borne pathogens such as HIV or Hepatitis.”

In addition to the general population, the improper disposal of sharps more directly affects our solid waste and landfill employees. Sharps can penetrate normal containers that are used for disposal including paper bags, plastic trash bags and thin plastic containers.

In order to address this issue, there are two programs in Walton County to assist patients and caregivers in the correct disposal of sharps.

The Florida Department of Health in Walton County offers a free, convenient program that provides sharps disposal containers at no cost to those who need them.

The free containers can be picked up at the following locations:

  • Wal-Mart Pharmacy: 892-6914
  • Dr. Garcia Office: 892-4791
  • South Walton Fire Station 3 SRB: 267-1298
  • Gateway Medical: 892-3366

Once the container is obtained, it is taken to the home for users to begin disposing of their syringes, needles, and lancets intact into the container. Once the container reaches capacity, it is sealed, signed, dated, and can be taken to one of the following drop-off locations:

  • Healthmark Regional Medical Center: 892-5171 (*ask for lab)
  • Healthmark Rural Health Clinic: 892-4721
  • South Walton Fire Station  3 SRB: 267-1298

Waste Management Program:

Waste Management, the County’s solid waste provider, provides MedWaste Safe Solutions for Sharps Disposal program, which helps protect families and the community from potential needle-stick injuries.

This program allows a user to purchase a sharps container for as little as $45. Once the container has been filled, the user seals the container and ships it using pre-paid packaging slips via the U.S. Postal Service. Waste Management takes care of the final disposal of the materials.

This program specifically benefits those users that may not be able to travel from their homes to obtain and return the containers provide through the Health Department’s program.

For more info, visit the Waste Management website.