Why do they sterilise lethal injection needles? © iStock

Why do they sterilise lethal injection needles?

Try 3 issues of BBC Science Focus Magazine for £5!

Trying to keep the humane touch when administering the death penalty.

Asked by: Paul Brown, Bristol


Hypodermic needles are sterilised during manufacture and supplied in sealed packs. It would be more expensive to specifically source unsterilised needles, just for use by executioners. However, prison doctors do still swab the condemned man's arm with alcohol, prior to inserting the needle. This is probably just out of habit and to prevent possible claims that the execution method is somehow less humane than it needs to be.


Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.


luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


Sponsored content