The following items are regulated as sharps, when generated in a laboratory that conducts research with non-exempt recombinant and synthetic nucleic acids; human or animal blood and body fluids, tissues or cells;  materials potentially infectious to humans, animals or plants:

Used or unused items

  • Hypodermic needles *
  • All syringes to which a needle can be attached (with or without the needle)*
  • Scalpel/razor blades*
  • Pasteur pipettes
  • Blood vials
  • Glass capillary tubes
  • Carpules
  • Needles with attached tubing

*Hypodermic needles, syringes to which a needle can be attached and blades must be disposed of as sharps if generated in any lab, regardless of the nature of the research.

Used items

  • Broken or unbroken glassware, such as slides and coverslips, and plasticware that can shatter that has been in contact with infectious agents.
  • Used pipette tips should not be disposed of via the regular trash, as they can easily puncture the plastic trash bag and cause an injury.  If the tip has been in contact with an infectious agent, it can be placed directly into a sharps container, or autoclaved and disposed of into the regulated medical waste box. Used pipette tips that have not been in contact with infectious agents should be disposed of into the laboratory waste glass box.


Labs are responsible for obtaining their own sharps containers through University stockrooms or scientific supply companies.  Sharps containers must be:

  • rigid
  • non-breakable and puncture resistant
  • impervious to moisture and leak-proof
  • red in color with the universal biohazard label

Rigid, impervious sharps containers

Treatment and Disposal

  • Dispose directly into sharps container.
  • DO NOT clip, bend, shear, or separate needles from syringes.  DO NOT recap needles for disposal. These are the times you are most likely to be injured.
  • Sharps containers typically do not need to be autoclaved prior to disposal, unless specified by EHS.
  • When sharps container is ¾ full, close and lock lid.

Overfilled Sharps Container

  • Place a label on the closed sharps container. Label must contain the following information:
                                  Princeton University
                                  Princeton, NJ 08540
  • Place labeled, closed sharps container into the regulated medical waste box.


Meagan Fitzpatrick
Biosafety Officer

Halina Staniszewska
Sr. Lab Safety Specialist