‘Inconsiderate’: PPE litter causing additional public health risk, Methuen police want it to stop

METHUEN, MASS. (WHDH) - Many people are heeding guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control and wearing gloves and other personal protective equipment when venturing outside. But police in Methuen say they’re finding those items left scattered all over the ground.

After accidentally parking on a pair of discarded rubber gloves in a shopping plaza, resident Maralyn Medina told 7NEWS she feels like she has enough to worry about when it comes to avoiding coronavirus without this litter.

“It’s not scaring me but it is grossing me out,” she said. “It’s just inconsiderate. They don’t consider others. It’s not nice.”

Eery images are everywhere and easy to spot — rubber gloves and masks discarded in lots in town after town.

Now it is catching the attention of Methuen authorities.

“I don’t think they’re doing it intentionally to cause an issue,” Chief of Police Joseph Solomon said. “I think they don’t want to take them in their car.”

While that may be the case, Solomon said that it is causing an additional public health concern for those trying to protect and keep people healthy.

“Throwing them on the ground just causes the employees of these businesses to have to go out and clean them up and further risk exposure to themselves,” he explained.

Infectious Disease Specialist for Tufts Medical Center, Dr. Shira Doron said the discarded gear is certainly dangerous and should be handled with care.

“Those gloves can certainly be harboring COVID-19 or any number of germs that could make you sick,” she said. “So, I do advise people to stay away from them or to be careful when handling them and to clean their hands afterward.”

Solomon said the solution to this problem is simple.

“We’ve been telling people that when you’re in the store, just ask the market for an extra plastic bag,” he said. “So, you have all your groceries with an extra, empty bag. Place your groceries, then take your gloves and mask off, put them in that bag and when you get home throw that bag out.”

Police say they are not looking to start writing citations for littering. They just want to get the word out about the dangers it poses.

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