Sharps Waste Information

According to the Medical Waste Management Act, “Sharps waste” means a device that has acute rigid corners, edges, or protuberances capable of cutting or piercing, including, but not limited to, hypodermic needles, blades, needles with attached tubing, acupuncture needles, root canal files, broken glass items used in health care such as Pasteur pipettes and blood vials contaminated with biohazardous waste, and any item capable of cutting or piercing from trauma scene waste.

Sharps waste does not include syringes or animal vaccine vials, unless they contain or contained an agent that could potentially harm a human (such as brucellosis or sore-mouth vaccines in livestock).

Storage On Site

Sharps waste can be stored in a sealed sharps container for up to 30 days on-site. Containers must be made of a rigid, puncture-resistant material that, when sealed, is leak resistant and cannot be reopened without great difficulty. Sharps containers should be labeled with the words “sharps waste” or with the international biohazard symbol and the word “BIOHAZARD” on the lid and all sides.

“Sharps container” means a rigid puncture-resistant container used in patient care or research activities meeting the standards of, and receiving approval from, the United States Food and Drug Administration as a medical device used for the collection of discarded medical needles or other sharps. Sharps containers, including those used to containerize trace chemotherapeutic wastes, do not need to be lined with a plastic bag or inner liner.

Methods of Disposal

Some local jurisdictions allow for use of on-site sharps treatment systems for sharps disposal. Each jurisdiction makes different determinations as to which in-house treatment systems they accept. Therefore, to determine if a particular treatment system is approved in your area, you must contact your local health authority. To determine which government organization oversees in-house sharps disposal system approval in your location, visit here. For a list of local Medical Waste Management Administrators, visit here.

Sharps waste that is not disposed of on-site must be transported by registered medical waste hauling and disposal companies licensed by the California Department of Public Health. To access a list of licensed companies, view this CDPH approved list.

For More Information

For more information on the Medical Waste Management Program (MWMP), contact either the MWMP Headquarters at (916) 449.5671, or the Southern California Regional Office at (818) 551.2042. Also visit their website here.

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