OSWEGO COUNTY - As medical science develops and the number of injection drugs used by patients continues to grow, so does the use of needles in the home, at work, or while traveling. Improper disposal of needles may expose family members, neighbors, residents, and even public works employees to needle sticks, cuts, or punctures. Although many laws and rules govern needles and other medical waste, enforcement often focuses on health care facilities and medical waste operations.
The Oswego County Health Department and the VOW Foundation suggest that people follow US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendations that used needles and sharps be placed immediately in a sharps-disposal container. These containers are made of puncture-resistant plastic with leak-resistant sides and bottom and a tight-fitting, puncture-resistant lid. If this kind of container is not available, a heavy-duty plastic household container, such as a laundry detergent container or bleach bottle, can be used as an alternative. Mark “Sharps” on the outside of the container so that others know the receptacle has been re-purposed. Do not put needles in soda cans, milk cartons, glass bottles, or coffee cans. Never throw loose needles and other sharps into trash cans or recycling bins, and never flush them down the toilet.
Put needles into the container as soon as they are used; close the lid or screw on the cap tightly. Do not re-use the needle. Keep the container closed and away from children and pets.
Dispose of the container when it is about three-quarters full; do not overfill. Do not put a used sharps container in the trash or a recycling bin.
“In recent years, we have seen reports of littered needles at various locations in the county,” said Oswego County Public Health Director Jiancheng Huang. “If you find loose needles in public spaces, do not pick them up or attempt to handle them without protection. In the cities of Fulton or Oswego, contact the police departments and they will dispatch someone to dispose of found needles. Outside the two cities, contact the Sheriff’s Department. Some of their patrol cars are equipped with sharps-disposal containers for collecting sharps.”
Other local sites where people can dispose of used needles are:
• Oswego City Fire Department, 35 E. Cayuga St., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.;
• Oswego City Police Department, 169 W. Second St., (24/7);
• Oswego Hospital Mental Health Center, 74 Bunner St.
• Fulton Medical Center, 510 S. Fourth St.
• Morningstar Residential Care Center at 17 Sunrise Drive, Oswego
• Seneca Hill Manor, 20 Manor Drive, Oswego
• St. Luke Residential Health Care Facility, 299 E. River Rd., Oswego.
People can reduce the risk of diseases by always using a new sterile syringe and not sharing needles.
Registered pharmacies in New York State’s Expanded Syringe Access Program (ESAP) can provide up to 10 syringes at a time to adults (over 18) without a prescription. This program benefits individuals who self-inject medications.
Local participating pharmacies include Kinney Drugs in Pulaski, Mexico, Fulton and Oswego; Walmart Pharmacy in Oswego, Fulton and Central Square; Oswego Valley Pharmacy in Phoenix, Fulton Medicine Place in Fulton; Hannibal Pharmacy in Hannibal and Rite Aid in Oswego, Fulton, Pulaski, Central Square and Hannibal.
For information about medical sharps and how to handle them, visit these websites: https://www.fda.gov/medical-devices/safely-using-sharps-needles-and-syringes-home-work-and-travel/best-way-get-rid-used-needles-and-other-sharps and https://safeneedledisposal.org/
To find a nearby sharps disposal location, visit http://www.thepointny.org/.