Safe Handling and Disposal of Sharps
What are Sharps?
Sharps are items that are potentially contaminated with blood or body fluids and are capable of causing a cut or puncture in the skin. Sharps include:
- Used syringes with needles attached
- Used needles
- Used razor blades
- Broken glass that has come into contact with blood or other body fluids
- Used crack smoking stems
Why should sharps be handled safely?
- Sharps can contain blood from other people and this blood can carry blood-borne infections like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV.
- HIV can live on a needle for up to several hours. Hepatitis B and C can live on a needle for weeks.
- Accidental puncture wounds from a sharp can allow the entry of infection through the skin, resulting in blood-borne infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
Seventeen stationary needle collection bins have been installed at strategic locations in downtown and priority areas to assist with the collection of discarded drug using equipment. The London CAReS peer initiative collects discarded drug using equipment including syringes. Proposed locations for new needle bins coincide with known hot spots.
Three elements of the London CAReS safe drug using equipment and syringe recovery are:
- support to existing syringe exchange programs;
- installation of needle collection bins; and,
- support for community needle collection.
What should I do if I come across a needle in the community?
If needles are found on public property, please contact London CAReS:
- This phone line is answered 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
Please note: The main focus of London CAReS Outreach syringe recovery is the core areas of the city.
How should I handle and dispose of found needles or other sharps?
- Use caution. Treat all found needles and other sharps as contaminated. Do not try to put the cap back on a needle.
- If you do not have a specialized sharps disposal container, you will need a non-breakable, puncture-proof container with a lid (e.g. a hard plastic container or tin can).
- Do not touch the sharp with your bare hands.
- Use tongs, pliers or tweezers to pick up the sharp. It is best to also wear gloves. Always hold sharp or cutting edges down and away from you.
- Put the container on a stable surface next to the sharp. Do not hold the container in your hand when placing the sharp inside. If picking up a needle, put the needle in the container point down. Do not force sharps into the container or overfill it.
- Close the container securely.
- Wash hands with soap and water and/or an alcohol-based hand rub after all handling sharps, containers, used equipment, and after removing gloves.
- Teach children to never touch sharps but to tell an adult what they found and where.
For more information visit the Middlesex London Health Unit.
Stationary Needle Bins – Current Locations
- 580 Dundas St – LMHC
- 130 King St – Covent Garden Market, Market Lane
- Forks of the Thames
- 459 York St – Mission Services
- 241 Simcoe St – LMHC
- Victoria Park
- 186 King St – RHAC
- London Police Service – underground sallyport
- Bathurst St. at Clarence
- Bathurst St. at the Salvation Army Centre of Hope
- Municipal Parking Lot – Queens and Adelaide
- Municipal Parking Lot – Queens and Lyle
- Campbell Park
- Municipal Parking Lot – King and Adelaide (near Tolpuddle Housing Co-op)
- Piccadilly Park
- Watson Park
- Harris Park (bandshell)
- Carfrae Park (at Ridout St)
Needle Exchange Program in London
Counterpoint Needle and Syringe Program at Regional HIV/AIDS Connection assists to:
- Reduce the transmission of HIV, Hepatitis C and other blood-borne infections among individuals who use drugs, and beyond into the larger community.
- Educate service users about the health risks associated with drug use.
- Provide information and materials necessary to practice safer drug use and safer sex.
- Provide referrals to other social services and health care agencies such as drug and alcohol treatment centres for those who want to stop using drugs, as well as doctors, hospitals, social workers housing and welfare support agencies, legal aid, etc.
All services of the Counterpoint Needle Exchange and Syringe Program are free and confidential. Services also include counselling, free condoms and other equipment for safer drug use.