During the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to protect ourselves and others by using masks and gloves when out in public. Unfortunately, not everyone is properly disposing of their personal protective equipment (PPE). Discarded gloves and masks have become common litter in parking lots, on streets, and in other public areas.
Since PPE litter has the potential of spreading COVID-19, it poses a threat to public health, especially to employees tasked with picking up this hazardous waste. Not only is it a health and safety issue, it also poses a threat to the environment. During rain storms, trash in parking lots and on streets — including discarded gloves and masks — is inevitably washed down storm drains and into our streams, rivers, and the Barnegat Bay. PPE litter is adding to the plastic pollution in our environment.
Let’s all do our part to protect both public health and the environment by taking the time to properly dispose of used gloves and masks. When removing gloves, follow the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines for how to safely remove them, then place them in the nearest trash receptacle.
What if a trash can is not available? In an Ocean County press release about the PE litter problem, Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari offers this suggestion – always bring a bag with you that you can use to safely transport your used gloves or mask back home for proper disposal in the trash.