News Releases

October 17, 2018

Health Department Announces New Safe Needle Disposal Resource Hub

Disposal Tips, Video and Resources for Individuals and Community Policy Leaders

Barre City's Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Aldsworth grew concerned as he kept finding increasing numbers of discarded needles around the community - in parks, playgrounds, and public restrooms. To Aldsworth, "syringes were the new soda cans when it came to litter."

The deputy chief took his concerns to community organizations and businesses including Central Vermont Medical Center, and reached out to Vermont Cares and the Department of Health local office in Barre. From this came the Greater Barre Safe Sharps Disposal Alliance, Vermont's first major community-wide effort to create multiple options for safe sharps disposal and to raise public awareness about these options free of stigma.

Barre City is not alone. Other communities have also been having important conversations and organizing projects to address this public health and waste disposal concern. Now, as part of a statewide Needle Disposal Initiative, the Vermont Department of Health has launched a new web page where people can see how to safely dispose of needles, and where Vermont communities can find information to help them develop safe needle disposal strategies.

Vermont Commissioner of Health Mark Levine, MD said communities across the state are grappling with needle disposal. "The issue of needle disposal is more complex than you may think," said Dr. Levine. "We're not just talking about a side effect of the opioid crisis, though that is a significant contributor. Our communities also need to find ways to accommodate safe disposal of needles used by thousands of Vermonters every day for a number of reasons, including medical needs such as self-care for diabetes." Dr. Levine said the evidence-based information on the new user-friendly web page was designed to help local policy makers find the response to needle disposal that works best at the local level.

The information and resources at healthvermont.gov/needledisposal includes toolkits for communities to use as they develop their own safe needle disposal plans, Vermont case studies, easy-to-read and print information for individuals, and a video (https://youtu.be/fhX0TwtKQao) that clearly demonstrates how to dispose of a found needle.

The state's collective response is coordinated by the Vermont Needle Disposal Initiative. This partnership of stakeholders came together in 2017 to support safe needle disposal. The initiative members include representatives from state agencies, the Governor's Opioid Coordination Council, local police departments, business members and other groups that recognize the responsibility we all share to safely dispose of needles.

Here's what to do if you find a needle:

1. Put on heavy duty gloves and use pliers or tongs to place the needle in a thick plastic container like a laundry detergent bottle.

2. Screw on the lid and seal it well with strong tape, like duct tape.

3. Write "Do Not Recycle" on the container and throw it away in the regular trash.

See how to safely dispose of needles and find the needle disposal resource hub at healthvermont.gov/needledisposal.

Media Contact: Ben Truman, Vermont Department of Health, 802-951-5153 / 802-863-7281

Source: Department of Health
Last Updated at: October 17, 2018 14:55:38