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To help the community safely dispose sharps medical supplies, the City of West Fargo Sanitation Department has installed sharps drop box sites at the Sanitation Building (117 Eighth St. W.) and West Fargo Police Department lobby (800 Fourth Ave. W.). Sharps are defined as medical supplies with sharp points or edges that can puncture or cut skin, such as needles, syringes and lancets.
“We wanted to provide the community with an option to safely dispose of these materials to protect our workers and allow residents who use them to feel comfortable disposing of them,” said Tom Clark, City of West Fargo sanitation manager.
Recycling and landfill partners report that sharps are constantly showing up in equipment making their work environment a very dangerous place. An estimated 7 billion sharps are discarded in the trash every year and up to 850,000 people are injured by sharps that are not discarded properly. Punctures by contaminated needles can inject hazardous fluids into the body, but contact with infectious fluids, especially blood, is the greater concern.
“A City of West Fargo sanitation worker was injured by an improperly disposed needle and it took two years of medication and testing to ensure they did not contract an infection from the incident,” said Clark. “We want to make sure an incident like this never happens again.”
By utilizing the drop box, residents ensure their sharps stay out of the regular garbage stream so they can be managed specifically at the Fargo Landfill. The City of West Fargo worked with the North Dakota Department of Health and the Fargo Landfill to ensure drop sites comply with public health standards for waste disposal. The drop boxes are designed similar to medication disposal bins, allowing individuals to drop materials in but not retrieve materials out.
The drop boxes have been placed at monitored locations and can be accessed by the public from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday near the west entrance off of Eighth Street W. at the Sanitation Department and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday near the north entrance of the West Fargo Police Department. Drop boxes are only intended for sharps and should not be used to dispose of medication or other medical supplies. A medication drop box is located next to the sharps drop box at the West Fargo Police Department.
To keep the community safe, sharps users should not throw loose sharps in the trash, put sharps in recycling, flush sharps down the toilet or keep sharps accessible to children. Additionally, experts recommend three key steps for proper disposal:
Free sharps containers may be available from a doctor, hospital, health insurance or medication supplier. If a sharps user cannot obtain a sharps container, they should utilize an empty household container that stays upright, is made of heavy-duty plastic, has a tight-fitting lid that cannot be punctured and does not leak. Milk containers, soda cans, glass containers or water bottles because they can break or puncture easily should not be used for sharps disposal.
Sharps drop boxes are also located in the City of Fargo at the Harm Reduction Center (510 Fifth St. N., Fargo) and Fargo Cass Public Health (1240 25th St. S. Fargo).