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Old needles must be disposed of properly

A doctor recently prescribed a medication for my husband that has to be self-injected daily.

Can I just throw the old needles in the trash? That seems unsanitary, even for a landfill.

— Sue W., Medford

Sue, it would be bad if a needle ended up in a landfill but worse if it poked somebody on its way there.

Fortunately, the Oregon Legislature addressed this concern in 1990 when it passed a law for the safe handling and disposal of infectious waste, which includes needles, syringes, IV tubing and other "sharps."

Rogue Disposal & Recycling and most local pharmacies — we checked with Safeway and Walgreens — sell puncture-resistant, red, plastic containers with one-way safety lids designed specifically for your sharps.

"What if the needle comes in contact with one of our employees or someone at the transfer station?" said Denise Barnes, recycling coordinator for Rogue Disposal & Recycling. "They don't know what it's from or whether it's been used for drugs or a legitimate medical purpose."

Rogue Disposal sells a gallon container for $18.22 and a two-gallon container for $22.74. You can pick it up and drop it off at the office at 8001 Table Rock Road in White City. Pickup and delivery also is available but will set you back $5 each way.

Sue, if your husband's prescription is temporary, you might prefer to purchase one of the smaller, quart-size containers for $6 at your pharmacy. The kit will include instructions on where to mail it when it's full or, for $15.15, you can leave it at the Rogue Disposal office.

From Rogue Disposal, all medical waste goes to a Stericycle plant in Washington, where it is incinerated, Barnes said.

Rogue Disposal doesn't like to play "garbage police," Barnes said, but someone will contact and educate you on proper disposal if needles are found in your curbside bin. It's for everyone's protection, including yours.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.