MDEQ Announces Two Sharps Drop-Off Locations in Wiggins

(JACKSON, Miss.) – The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) recently announced the addition of two pharmaceutical partners in the City of Wiggins to the Mississippi Household Sharps Disposal Program.  The two pharmacies in Wiggins are County Discount Drugs and Whites Pharmacy.

The public may take their used syringes, lancets, and other needles, referred to as “sharps” in the medical field, to either pharmacy and drop them off for disposal at no cost.  The sharps must be contained in a purchased sharps container, or any hard plastic consumer container with a screw-top lid or cap.  Laundry soap containers, fruit juice containers, chlorox containers, or vegetable oil containers are examples of consumer containers that may be used by the public to contain their sharps.

The voluntary program was launched in an effort to give diabetics and others who administer to themselves medical injections in their home a safe option for disposing of their medical sharps. Before the initiation of this program, persons generating sharps in their home had few disposal options other than to throw them in the trash or to flush them down the toilet. This creates a hazard for needle stick injuries among garbage collection workers and wastewater treatment employees. The practice of placing sharps in household trash bags can also present a threat to the general public when bags containing sharps become broken at the street curb or are illegally dumped.

The program began three years ago with approximately 90 drop off collection stations statewide, most of which are located at local pharmacies.

“We’ve discovered that pharmacy locations are most convenient for the public, and that pharmacists are able to provide a free service to their customers that they were previously unable to provide,” says Bill Barnett, who helped to develop the program for MDEQ in 2009. “At the onset of the program, we had no way of guessing how successful this program would become, as few other states had ever attempted to implement a similar program.  The program has grown in popularity to the point that the number of drop-off collection stations in the state have more than doubled to 180, and nearly 1.5 million sharps have been collected through the program.”

MDEQ is pleased that the citizens of Wiggins and Stone County are now able to take advantage of this no-cost program.  Barnett added that:  “in Stone County, there are probably 500 to 800 persons generating medical sharps in their home.  Because of the partnership established with County Discount Drugs and Whites Pharmacy, those people should have a safer alternative for disposing of their sharps, and that if everyone uses the program, the city and county will be a safer place for all its citizens to reside.”

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