Archival Content: 1999-2005
What Can States and Communities Do To Achieve Safe Community Needle Disposal?
Public health, environmental, and occupational health laws have traditionally focused on safe collection and disposal of syringes and needles that have been used in health care settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes. Less attention has been paid to safe disposal of syringes that are used by individuals living in the community.
However, these “community syringes” add up to billions: It is estimated that between 0.9 and 1.68 billion insulin injections and up to 1 billion illegal drug injections occur each year in the United States. After being used and discarded, most of these syringes end up in the public solid waste system. This presents a risk of needlestick injury and infection with bloodborne pathogens, such as HIV and viral hepatitis. This risk is highest for solid waste workers.
Many state and local public health agencies, waste management companies, and other organizations have begun to promote safe disposal options and build awareness among the public about the risks of disposing of used syringes in the trash. Public health agencies and groups that work with injection drug users (IDUs) are raising awareness about the legal barriers faced by IDUs in safely disposing of syringes and are working to encourage IDUs to participate in community syringe disposal programs and syringe exchange programs.
This goal has not yet been achieved, but states and local communities have many options for helping make it a reality. The options include:
Pharmacists, physicians, and other health care providers can play a crucial role by:
For more information:
See the November/December 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association, “Preventing Blood-borne Infections Through Pharmacy Syringe Sales and Safe Community Syringe Disposal.” This Supplement contains 33 papers on a range of issues related to syringe law and deregulation, pharmacy syringe sales and regulation, pharmacist attitudes, and safe community syringe disposal. Two papers of particular relevance are:
Read the August 5, 2002 “Dear Colleague” letter, “Safe Community Disposal of Needles and Other Sharps,” from the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), American Diabetes Association (ADA), American Medical Association (AMA), American Pharmaceutical Association (APhA), Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), and National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD).
Visit the website of the
Coalition for Safe Community
Needle Disposal. The Coalition is a collaboration of businesses,
community groups, non-profit organizations, and government agencies
that promotes public awareness and solutions for safe disposal of needles,
syringes, and other sharps in the community. The Coalition’s Advisory
Council includes the American Association of Diabetes Educators, American
Diabetes Association, American Medical Association, American Pharmaceutical
Association, and National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors.
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