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The City will be installing a safe sharps disposal containerat the Owen Sound Farmers' Market for needles, syringes, lancets or finger stick devices, for a trial one-year program. The Owen Sound Hub asked Public Health to help our readers understand the importance of safe sharps disposal and what to do if you should have or find one. Here is their reply:


To begin, people use needles for many different purposes. There are many medical conditions that involve using needles at home. Diabetes is most common. People with conditions like cancer and arthritis may also use needles to control pain. Some  people use needles to inject illicit drugs.
People using needles need a safe way to throw them out after they are finished using them. Without wanting to harm anyone else, they may throw the needles in the garbage or on the ground if they don't see an easy way to get rid of them safely. Anyone can get hurt if they accidently get poked with a used needle.
When a person finishes using a needle, some of that person's blood may still be inside the needle or the syringe. If you get poked by a needle and the blood goes into your bloodstream, you could get sick with infections like HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C.
Secondly, everyone who uses needles has the same need to get rid of their used needles safely. With safe disposal, no one gets hurt accidently.
There are a variety of choices for local safe disposal of used needles such as:
Local pharmacies – call your local pharmacy to see if you can take your used needles back to the pharmacy. Some pharmacies only accept used needles from their customers.
Local needle exchange sites are a free needle exchange services for people who inject drugs. People who inject drugs can exchange their used needs for clean ones to reduce harm to their health. In 2016 almost 45,000 used needles were returned to public health through our needle exchange program. Contact public health to find a needle exchange site near you.
Thirdly, safe needle disposal is everyone's responsibility. If you come across a used needle in a public space like a walking trail or park, you can take the following steps to safely dispose of it.
1. Don't touch the needle.
2. Put on gloves if possible. Gloves do not prevent injury, but form a clean barrier between the hands and the needle.
3. Get a puncture resistant, sealable container to the site of the needle. A plastic pop bottle, a coffee can or a laundry jug will work.
4. Place the container on as flat a surface as possible beside the needle. Never hold the container and retrieve a needle at the same time – this will increase the risk of needle stick injury.
5. Use kitchen or BBQ tongs to retrieve the needle. You may dispose of tongs later in the trash.
6. Pick up the needle with tongs by the middle of the plastic tube with sharp end facing down. If there are multiple needles, pick them up one at a time.
7. Place the needle in the container sharp end first. Never attempt to recap the needle or break the tip off.
8. Securely place the lid on the container
9. Remove gloves and wash your hands with soap and water.
10. Take the container to a community site for safe disposal (Public Health or a local pharmacy – call first).
Don't put used needles in the garbage, recycling, toilet, or in a public space like a park or trail where they could potentially hurt someone.
If you don't feel comfortable collecting the needle yourself, you can call local municipal workers or local police to inquire if they will assist. These are not sites for needle drop off.

Owen Sound has considered safe sharps disposal boxes in public places  to increase public safety and reduce the risk of needle stick injuries, and is instaling one in the Farmers' Market washroom for a trial period.

source: Sarah Ellis, Program Manager, Public Health Grey Bruce



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