All About Sharps


Used “Sharps” is a medical term for devices with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin. Sharps may be used at home, at work, and while traveling to manage the medical conditions of people or their pets. These medical conditions include allergies, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, infertility, migraines, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, blood clotting disorders, and psoriasis.


Needle | a very fine, slender, hollow piece of metal used to inject medication under the skin.

Syringe | device which a needle is attached to in order to inject medication into or withdraw fluid from the body.

Lancet also called a “fingerstick” | instruments with a short, two-edged blade used to get drops of blood for testing.
Lancets are commonly used in the treatment of diabetes.

Auto injector, including epinephrine pens | syringe pre-filled with fluid medication designed to be self-injected into the body.

Infusion set | tubing system with a needle used to deliver drugs to the body.

Connection needle/set | needle that connects to a tube used to transfer fluids in and out of the body. This is generally used for patients on home hemodialysis.


Used sharps are dangerous to people and pets if not disposed of safely. They can injure people and spread infections that cause serious health conditions. The most common infections are:

• Hepatitis B (HBV),

• Hepatitis C (HCV), and

• Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

Never place loose needles and other sharps in the household or public trash cans or recycling bins, and never flush them down the toilet. This puts trash and sewage workers, janitors, housekeepers, household members, and children at risk of being harmed.

The safest method for sharps disposal is with mail-back containers that are designed to be filled and mailed to the manufacturer or manufacturer’s disposal partner for proper disposal.

FDA-cleared filled sharps containers are placed in shipping containers, which are mailed (in accordance with the U.S. Postal Service regulations) to a collection site for proper disposal. This service usually requires a fee, and fees may vary depending on the size of the container. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions included with the disposal container, as these programs may have specific requirements for mail-back. Some drug companies also offer sharps mail-back programs.

Please safely dispose of your sharps by using an FDA-approved mail-back program and help to protect your family, cleaning and waste disposal workers and the general public safe from this hazard.