KAHULUI, Hawaii - Eight million people across the country use more than three billion needles, syringes, and lancets every year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. If even one of those needles isn't thrown away properly, it can be a serious health risk to someone accidentally poked by it.

That's what happened to a Maui family this weekend. The Manuel family of Kahului family was at a beach near the Veterans Foreign Wars building on Uluniu Road in Kihei on Saturday, when their day went from enjoying a fishing tourmanent to a trip to the emergency room.

Six-year-old Aria had found it and accidentally scratched her brother, 11-year-old Kaydan, with it. "I looked at his arm and sure enough, he has a little cut. Tiny, but as a parent, I panicked," says Kaydan's father, Bryant Manuel.

Manuel raced his son to the emergency room. "There were so many emotions going through me. I was crying myself. I had to explain to my daughter that it wasn't her fault."

Doctors say contaminated needles and sharps can transmit diseases; most commonly, HIV, Hepatitis B, or Hepatitis C. Medical waste is primarily regulated by state environmental and health departments. 

Manuel says doctors tested his son's blood and said he's healthy, but as a precaution, he'll still monitor his son's health. This also raises the question: Where can people properly throw away needles and sharps? Ask your medical provider or community health clinic if they accept medical waste.  

If they do not, the state health department says:
Put used needles in an unbreakable plastic bottle labeled "Biohazard."
Fill the used container with one part bleach to ten parts water, soak it for 20 minutes, then drain the water. 
Tape the lid and discard it with your regular trash.
Do not put it in the recycle bin. 

If you inject illegal drugs, the Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center has a sterile needle exchange on four islands, including Maui. It's a statewide, anonymous drug program aimed at preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Manuel has a plea for anyone using needles or sharps, asking them to dispose of it properly. "If you're going to do that kind of stuff, do it in your home. You know, don't do it out there and put everybody else's life in danger like that!"

He's hoping one frightening day at the beach won't haunt his son for the rest of his life.

More on the Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center here: https://www.hhhrc.org/.

More from the EPA on medical waste: https://www.epa.gov/rcra/medical-waste.