Dave Scott

Area health officials say diabetics and other people have many options for proper disposal of medical waste and called an incident last week involving an Akron Public Schools teacher an aberration.

A used needle that a diabetic teacher apparently placed in a trash can pierced the skin of a first-grader at David Hill school, and the teacher was slow to notify authorities. She has been placed on administrative leave.

Rob Boxler, head of environmental health and safety for APS, said every school employee is made aware of a four-page document outlining the “Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plan” when they are hired.

It states that “Contaminated needles and other sharps will not be bent, recapped, or removed and should be immediately placed in a sharps container until they can be processed.”

Every day, APS students are given 5,920 blood-glucose checks to monitor diabetes. The district has 40 students requiring insulin shots by syringe or pen and another 10 who wear insulin pumps. The schools also have 129 students with prescriptions for epinephrine pens that are used to treat allergies and other conditions.

Boxler said the district is trying to get more sharps containers for Akron schools and usually places them in its health clinics.

Jill Pupa, executive director of the American Diabetes Association in Northeast Ohio, said the containers also are available at drugstores, but a well-sealed coffee can also can be used and thrown in the regular trash.

A clipper available at most drugstores can be used to remove the needle before disposal. She also recommends products that can disintegrate the syringe.

Biohazard containers typically are found in bathrooms, but Pupa said diabetics should be able to take their shots anywhere.

“A bathroom is not necessarily the cleanest place, and if they are sitting down to have a meal, if they have rapid-acting insulin, they are going to want to take that shot a minute or so before they take their first bite,” she said.

Summit County Public Health sells $5 sharps containers at its Stow and Barberton offices and charges another $5 to receive them and grind them.

Brooke Semonin, a sanitarian, said many people take the do-it-yourself route.

“If they put them in a container in the trash, what we tell them is to put them in a coffee can or laundry detergent bottle,” she said. “Make sure it is tightly sealed, and duct tape the top, and then you would want to label it ‘Do Not Recycle.’?”

Dave Scott can be reached at 330-996-3577 or davescott@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow Scott on Twitter at Davescottofakro.