Safe Needle and Sharps Disposal

Our friendly Tooth Doctor shares this post on needle disposal when standard sharps disposal is unavailable.  (He also mentions that in times of scarcity we may want to save and reuse needles and scalpels after careful sterilization.) 

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One comment on the need for safe needle/sharp disposal.  As a dentist with experience in third world dental missions, I can offer our solution to avoid accidental needle/sharps sticks…
Plaster….we mixed up a soupy mix of plaster (cement will work as well).  In a plastic bucket, can etc. we first placed about an inch of thin, mixed plaster in the bottom of the bucket, and as it set we would roll it to coat the sides with a layer of the mix.  This was allowed to harden.  This process allowed a layer of clean plaster to prevent any points from being on the surface when we were done.  A couple of times each day we would take our used sharps and mix them into a fresh batch of plaster in the bucket.  The plaster will set and on many of the metal surfaces it will bind to the metal just like rebar in concrete.  At the end of the day we would add a cap layer of plaster and allow it to set over night.  The block that you have in the morning is ready to dump out of the bucket for burial, or just bury the whole thing in a dump site.   We had a pit, but a latrine or outhouse would work as well.  Individuals could adjust the size of the block to meet their needs. 
The only thing to state as a requirement is that the points are deep inside the surface and that the final product is buried beyond the reach of kids and animals.



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About Cynthia J. Koelker, MD

CYNTHIA J KOELKER , MD is a board-certified family physician with over twenty years of clinical experience. A member of American Mensa, Dr. Koelker holds degrees in biology, humanities, medicine, and music from M.I.T., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and the University of Akron. She served in the National Health Service Corps to finance her medical education.
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One Response to Safe Needle and Sharps Disposal

  1. Tina says:

    You could also use empty plastic containers, like OJ. Either make a hole in the cap, or simply remove the cap. When finished, simply duct tape the container and throw the whole thing out.

    [Perhaps your OJ containers are stronger than ours, but we usually recommend heavy-duty plastic bottles, like ones containing laundry detergent or bleach. – Doc Cindy]

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