Sharps is a medical term that describe devices with points or edges that can cut or puncture skin. Sharps are used for medical conditions either at home, work, or on the road, and they can be used for humans or animals.
Examples of Sharps
- Auto injectors, including epinephrine pens – syringe pre-filled with fluid medication designed to be self-injected into the body.
- Connection needles/sets – needle that connects to a tube used to transfer fluids in and out of the body. This is generally used for patients on home hemodialysis.
- Infusion sets – tubing system with a needle used to deliver drugs to the body.
- Lancets also called a “fingerstick” – instruments with a short, two-edged blade used to get drops of blood for testing. Lancets are commonly used in the treatment of diabetes.
- Needles – a very fine, slender, hollow piece of metal used to inject medication under the skin.
It is important to correctly dispose of medical sharps to protect the health of those that may come into contact with used sharps. Wisconsin state law requires that all infectious waste (including sharps) be disposed of properly, pursuant to state statue NR 526.13.
It is illegal to dispose of sharps in the trash or recycling. Protect sanitation workers from potential harm by properly disposing of sharps.
Always place sharps in an approved sharps container, and properly dispose of that container at your nearest Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved sharps collection station. For a list of approved sharps collection facilities, correct packaging, and why sharps disposal is important, please go to the DNR’s website for sharps disposal.
When disposing of sharps, it is important to dispose of them in safe, and accepted sharps disposal containers. Failure to do so can result in the harm of individuals transporting or processing sharps containers. For additional information on sharps disposal,
Place sharps in either thick-walled detergent or bleach bottles with screw-on, puncture-resistant lids, or you may purchase acceptable sharps containers at a local retailer. If you are using a bleach bottle, detergent bottle, or similar item, label the container with the words "biohazard," "infectious waste," or "sharps." Additionally, if you are using a recyclable container, label the container "Do not recycle."
Unacceptable Sharp Containers
Do not dispose of sharps in milk containers, coffee cans, aluminum cans, soda bottles, or other similar containers, as they are likely to be punctured and pose a serious health risk.
Do not fill containers with bleach in an attempt to disinfect or sterilize sharps. Contents could spill and result in injury to unsuspecting workers. Avoid filling containers more than 3/4 full to reduce the risk of a puncture.