Proper Disposal of Dental Anesthetic Carpules

Dental Carpule Disposal

This is an update of the article originally published on January 12, 2016. Regulations change frequently. That’s why Sharps Compliance monitors updates and communicates any changes to its customers.

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.

  1. Carpules that contain visible blood are classified as sharps medical waste and must be placed in a sharps container for proper disposal.
  2. In some states, empty, unbroken carpules that contain no remaining anesthetic or aspirated blood can be placed in regular trash but may break during handling/disposal and present a danger. Disposal depends on each state’s definition of a medical sharp and whether they consider any glass, broken or unbroken to be a sharp.
  3. Some states require incineration for carpules that are broken but contain no blood or anesthetic. So, check your state’s regulations regarding disposal and transport to a medical waste treatment facility for proper disposal.
  4. If the carpules contain residual anesthetic, they are considered pharmaceutical waste and must be labeled as such and transported to a medical waste facility for proper treatment. Some states have special guidelines for evaluating pharmaceutical wastes. Always check your state’s requirements.

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.  Also, the table below shows the regulations for carpule disposal for each state.

Carpule Disposal Regulation by State*
State Disposal Rule
AL, AK, CA, CO, CT, DE, IL, IA, KS,MI,
MN, MS, MO, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, SD, TX, VT, WA, WY
Carpule sharp only if contaminated with infectious agents; otherwise trash
AR, GA, HI, ID, IN, KY, LA, ME, MD,
MA, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, PA,
SC, TN, UT, WV, WI
Carpule sharp only if broken OR
contaminated with blood
AZ, FL, OR, RI, VA All carpules are sharps

*Customers should always consult their own states’ regulations for proper classification of waste as rules may change.

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.

Jan Harris

Director of Environmental, Health and Safety at Sharps Compliance
Jan Harris holds a masters degree in Occupational Health and Safety Management and is an authorized OSHA outreach trainer. She has worked as a consultant focusing on OSHA and medical waste compliance since 1990, and for Sharps Compliance since 1999.
Jan Harris

Author: Jan Harris

Jan Harris holds a masters degree in Occupational Health and Safety Management and is an authorized OSHA outreach trainer. She has worked as a consultant focusing on OSHA and medical waste compliance since 1990, and for Sharps Compliance since 1999.