Be Safe With Sharps!Written on November 24, 2010 by Mary K. Letwin, DVM Hospital: Bulger Veterinary Hospital

In July 2010, the Massachusetts law banning the disposal of needles in household trash (passed in 2006), took effect. Prior to this, laws had varied from town to town.  This law now extends across Massachusetts; the penalty for breaking this law is a hefty fine.

What does this mean to you?
If you use a syringe, hypodermic needle, or even a blood-testing lancet to treat your pets at home, these items must be treated as hazardous medical waste, and disposed of only at approved locations.

Dispose of your pet's needles safely & legally!

Why is this important?

Every time trash handlers are accidentally stuck with a needle, or come in contact with a syringe, they have to worry about possible exposure to disease. They can’t tell that your syringe they got poked with was used for an animal. They have to assume they were exposed to

human diseases, and seek testing and treatment. This leads to a lot of worry, cost and wasted time.

What should you do?

There are a few options to choose from:

  • Sharps containers are available for sale at Bulger. The cost includes disposal fees. Simply discard the sharps in this container, and bring it back to us when it’s full.
  • Put your sharps in a puncture-resistant plastic or metal container with a screw-on or tightly secured lid, such as an empty detergent or bleach bottle, or a coffee can. You can also purchase a sharps disposal container from your local pharmacy. This can be brought back to this hospital (a disposal fee will apply) or to any MA disposal site listed by the Department of Public Health.
  • Use this link to the document called Proper Use and Disposal of Needles and Syringes on the mass.gov/dph website, and scroll down to find the list of sites.
  • Call the MA Department of Public Health at 617.624.6000, or your local Board of Health, for more help if needed.

In North Andover, the CVS Pharmacy on Main Street is the closest disposal site where you can drop off your full sharps containers for free. Make sure your container is puncture-resistant, leakproof, shatterproof, rigid, and tightly sealed for safety. No bags or glass containers are allowed. Be careful and be legal – keep sharps out of the trash!

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