OCEAN COUNTY – While people are wearing gloves and masks to protect themselves, they are tossing them out on the ground, hurting the environment and anyone who has to pick them up, officials said.
State regulations require people to wear masks in public to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, people are not safely disposing of these items.
“On a recent trip to the supermarket I was stunned by the number of used plastic gloves in the parking lot,” Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari said. “This cannot continue.”
The Freeholders issued a statement about how the used protective equipment can pose a threat to whoever has to clean up after these people.
“Nobody wants to be picking up used gloves,” he said. “Fortunately, there are easy ways to dispose of the gloves properly.”
Vicari suggested people bring plastic bags with them while out shopping or visiting other destinations.
“Carefully remove the gloves after use and place them in the plastic bag for disposal once you get home,” he said. “For an extra precaution, use hand sanitizer after handling the gloves and the bags.”
Vicari also asked grocery stores and other essential businesses that are open to place additional trash cans in their parking lots for disposal of gloves and masks.
“The easier it is to throw away used gloves, the less likely people will be to simply toss them on the ground,” Vicari said.
Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Health Department, agreed.
“It doesn’t take much time or effort to remove the gloves and throw them in a trash can,” he said.
Little said the problem isn’t limited to shopping centers. He’s also seen them on sidewalks and in the gutters.
If rubber gloves get into the sewer systems, they can damage them with blockages, he said. Additionally, they can pose a danger to the environment.
“Gloves can wash into storm drains and block them up,” Vicari said. “They can also wash into lakes, rivers and the bay causing environmental hazards.”