Health worker questions safety of syringe disposal
A BUDERIM health business owner is alarmed that used syringes can be legally thrown into household wheelie bins.
Linda Delamotte, from community care business Your Home Care, said sharps sitting in landfill posed a serious risk to public safety.
A former nurse, she said the best and only way sharps should be disposed of was through incineration.
Her business, which can go through up to 1000 needles in one flu season, accesses incineration services through bulk drop-offs to the Queensland Injectors Health Network (QuIHN).
However, Queensland Health says it is acceptable for individual needle users to place sharps in a properly sealed, rigid-walled, puncture-proof container and then into their green wheelie bin, but illegal to dispose of sharps in an unsafe manner.
Ms Delamotte disagrees with the department's definition of what constitutes safe disposal.
"Earthmovers move that waste around all the time - they drive over these containers and I guarantee you if they are under the earthmover's tracks, you could very easily pierce them or the lid could shoot off with the pressure and expose the sharps," she said. "I am surprised that council is allowing body fluids and sharps to be in an area that could be a public space ... in the future.
"And sometimes rubbish ends up being spilled at the kerbside. What if someone has used a glass jar for their sharps, throws it in their wheelie bin and it then smashes? The problem is on the roadside."
The councils in Brisbane, Logan, Redlands and the Gold Coast have a dedicated sharps management strategy, but the Sunshine Coast, Noosa and Gympie councils do not.
A Sunshine Coast Council spokesman encouraged residents to contact the Queensland Clean Needle Helpline - 1800 633 353 - for information on how to best dispose of sharps.
A Department of Environment and Heritage Protection spokesman said there had not been any complaints about the disposal of sharps in landfill.
Places used needles can be dropped off safely:
- Community health centres in Nambour, Noosa, Caloundra
- QuIHN Maroochydore
- Sunshine Coast Council offices, Nambour
- Maleny Soldiers Memorial Hospital
- At the discretion of some pharmacies and hospitals