Are used dental anesthetic carpules classified as medical waste, pharmaceutical waste, hazardous waste, or general waste that can be placed in the trash? Dental offices frequently ask our team this question about carpule disposal. The answer depends on the used carpule and the regulations for the state in which the office practices.
- Carpules that contain visible blood are classified as sharps medical waste and must be placed in a sharps container for proper disposal.
- Empty, unbroken carpules that contain no remaining anesthetic or aspirated blood can be placed in the trash for general waste disposal. Some offices are more comfortable placing unbroken carpules into a sharps container due to the fact that carpules could break.
- If carpules are broken but contain no blood or anesthetic, they are not technically classified as medical waste, but offices may want to discard them into the sharps container for employee and waste-worker safety.
- If the carpules contain residual anesthetic in all states except Minnesota, they should be disposed of in a container properly labeled for transport as pharmaceutical waste to a medical waste incinerator. Why not place them into your regular medical waste container? Medical waste is treated by autoclave; since autoclave treatment does not breakdown pharmaceutical waste, incineration is required.
- Minnesota has a regulation that is based on the characteristic of “lethality.” Since the anesthetic in the carpule has an oral LD50 less than 500 mg/kg, carpules with residual anesthetic would need to be managed as a hazardous waste in Minnesota.
It’s important to remember that the responsibility of determining how to manage waste carpules is that of the office. Those responsible require proper training and understanding of federal, state and local regulations. You can access your state’s medical waste regulations here. Written policies on medical waste management must be included in the office’s Bloodborne Pathogens Exposure Control Plan. In addition, some states require that a separate medical waste management plan be maintained by the office.
For sharps mailback solutions, including carpule disposal as dental medical waste, click here. For pharmaceutical waste disposal solutions, click here. Or request a quote from one of our medical waste experts who can help you determine the perfect solutions for managing medical and pharmaceutical waste in your dental office.