Sharps Disposal in Bucks County

The term “sharps” defines devices that have sharp points or edges that can puncture the skin. These can include needles and syringes, lancets (i.e., for pricking the finger), auto-injectors such as the EpiPen, and infusion sets and connection needles, which are used to deliver fluids into the body, such as in patients on home hemodialysis.

Many people in Bucks County have medical conditions that require the use of sharps, and disposal of these potentially dangerous medical devices has been a concern for a long time, as they pose a risk of injury and spread of disease. Many sharps end up in landfills, on the streets, or flushed into the sewer system. But recently, Bucks County has taken important steps to provide a safe means of disposing of sharps.

Collecting sharps

Through a collaboration between the Bucks County District Attorney’s office, BCHIP, the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission, and local hospitals, Bucks County has recently placed collection boxes for used and unwanted sharps at five area hospitals.

The first five hospitals to set up these collection boxes are Doylestown Hospital, Grand View Hospital, Jefferson Bucks Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital in Quakertown, and St. Mary Medical Center. Dropoffs at the collection boxes can be made anonymously, 24/7.

Safe disposal

In order to protect others from harm, sharps should never be thrown loosely into the collection boxes. They need to be properly contained in a strong, plastic container. FDA-cleared sharps disposal containers are available in a variety of sizes and designs. You can also use a plastic bottle like the ones that Powerade and Gatorade come in.

If you do not have easy access to an official sharps collection container, you can create your own using a strong plastic container such as a used (and washed) laundry detergent or bleach bottle. The container should be able to stand upright so that you can easily deposit the sharp after use and it must have a sturdy, puncture-resistant lid. When it is about three-quarters full, put on the lid and seal it with masking tape, clearly label the container “Sharps – Do Not Recycle” in bold letters, preferably with a permanent marker, and take it to a collection box.

The benefit to the community

Proper disposal of sharps protects the community from the spread of diseases from contaminated blood and bodily fluids. It also decreases the risk of drug misuse, as needles are less readily available. When someone struggling with substance us disorder lives with someone who needs sharps for medical purposes, unused sharps should be safely stored, and used sharps should be disposed of quickly.

The collection boxes are a response to a community need. While the county has been sponsoring drug take-back events twice a year since 2010, Bucks County added sharps collection in several limited locations in 2022 and collected a surprising 1,000 pounds of sharps. This indicated a real interest in the community for a safe means of disposing of these devices.

The sharps collection boxes initiative is just one more way that BCHIP is partnering with other organizations in the county to make Bucks County a safer, healthier place to live.


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