All Points Medical Waste Blog

PPE Pollution: A New Public Health Risk?

Improper Disposal Can Be Dangerous

An increasingly growing effect of the pandemic has come to light as people around the world continue to wear masks and use other PPE to guard against infection—PPE pollution. According to one report, people around the world are now using approximately 129 billion face masks and 69 billion plastic-containing gloves. It’s likely you’ve seen discarded disposable masks, gloves and disinfectant wipes on the ground, in shopping carts and parking lots, at the beach and other places around town. And while any pollution is bad, these items can cause issues beyond the obvious. Take a look:

The Dangers of Improperly Discarded Face Masks & Other PPE

When people throw their disposable face masks on the ground or leave them in shopping carts, in public restrooms and other places rather than in the garbage after use, they are not only being irresponsible, they’re creating a possible health hazard for people, animals and the environment. Disposable masks that have been worn, breathed into and touched by others can contain germs and infectious particles which could then cross contaminate the surfaces they touch and infect anyone who picks it up. Health experts are warning sanitation workers and those tasked with cleaning up trash in public places not to touch discarded masks, gloves and other PPE without using gloves and to wash their hands immediately after handling these items.

In addition, there have been numerous reports of PPE items ending up in the ocean and in lakes—posing a risk to marine-life. Experts are urging people not only to throw their masks away in a trash bin, but also to cut the strings that secure around each ear to prevent marine animals, ducks, birds and other animals from becoming entangled. Other PPE pollution that must be discarded properly includes:

  • Used disinfectant wipes
  • Used disposable gloves
  • Empty hand sanitizer containers
  • Disposable face shields
  • Used PPE gowns and shoe coverings

Proper PPE Disposal

As all of us do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19, it’s important to follow CDC guidelines when it comes to disposing of personal protective equipment. Wearing your mask while in public is a top way to protect yourself and others, but disposing of it properly is also a key step.

Any PPE items that are disposable, must be placed in a lined waste bin so it cannot contaminate any other surfaces, people, animals or the environment.

All Points Medical Waste provides medical waste disposal to facilities across South Florida including the Treasure Coast, Okeechobee County, Palm Beach and Broward Counties. Give us a call today or fill out this form to learn more.

Dawn Connelly

Dawn is the vice president of All Points Medical Waste. All Points Medical Waste is a family-owned and operated medical waste disposal and compliance company that has been serving the Treasure Coast, Palm Beaches, and surrounding areas since 1994.
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