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Public Health - Seattle & King County

Disposal of home-generated syringes and needles

Home-generated syringes and needles can carry disease-causing germs such as those that cause hepatitis or AIDS. These germs can enter the body if the skin is punctured. It is important to carefully dispose of home-generated syringes and needles to avoid injury.

Why do home-generated syringes and needles pose a public health risk?

Home-generated syringes and needles can carry disease-causing germs such as those that cause hepatitis or AIDS. These germs can enter the body if the skin is punctured. It is important to clean and dispose of home-generated syringes and needles to avoid injury.

What are safe ways to dispose of home-generated syringes and needles?
  • Home-generated syringes and needles are exempt from the guidelines for the disposal of biomedical waste unless they have been prepared for disposal so that people who have to handle them are protected from injury.

  • If you find a syringe or needle, do not pick it up with your bare hands. Use a glove and tongs, shovel, or broom and dustpan to pick it up.

  • Home-generated syringes and needles must be disposed of in one of the following ways:

    • In King County, sharps, including syringes, can be disposed of in the garbage if the sharps are placed in a puncture resistant container such as a 2 liter PET pop bottle, with a tight fitting or taped lid and labeled "SHARPS, DO NOT RECYCLE."

    • In the City of Seattle, no syringes or sharps can be disposed of in the garbage. They should be placed in a puncture resistant container with a tight fitting lid, labeled "SHARPS, DO NOT RECYCLE" and taken to the North or South Transfer station and placed in the collection bin for disposal.

    • See extensive information on safe and legal disposal of sharps in King County.