Carpules, used in dentistry, are small cylindrical glass tubes containing anesthetics which are screwed onto dental syringes, and are commonly aspirated while the practitioner injects the patient. The proper management of glass carpule waste is determined by the condition of the carpules.
- Carpules that have been completely emptied and are unbroken: When carpules are completely empty, they are considered regular trash and can be placed in the regular trash container.
- Empty, broken carpules: While not classified as medical waste unless contaminated with blood, they should be handled and discarded with care due to the risk of injury posed to janitorial staff. Broken carpules, or any broken glass, should be either discarded into the sharps container, or contained to eliminate the sharp edges and then thrown in the regular trash. For the latter, options include discarding in a plastic container for the broken glass or wrapping the glass in duct tape.
- Carpules that contain pharmaceutical, with or without blood: When there is residual pharmaceutical liquid left in the carpule, the carpule is considered pharmaceutical waste (a category of medical waste). Place the carpule in a pharmaceutical waste container labeled “Pharmaceutical waste – incineration only” and contact a registered medical waste hauler for pick-up.
- Carpules that contain visible blood, without pharmaceutical: These carpules are considered regulated medical waste and should be placed in the sharps container for pick-up by a registered medical waste hauler or sent in via an approved mail-back service.
For our OSHA Review Subscribers: Additional information about medical waste management can be found in Section IX of your OSHA Review binder.
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