Helen Lowman looks at litter a lot. It’s her job. But while walking her dog in Westport, Conn., in March, she noticed an alarming trend. First she passed some dirty wipes on the ground. Then there were gloves. And finally a mask. Four months later, she said the litter of personal protective gear has only gotten worse.
As more people wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, more personal protective equipment, or P.P.E., has been found as litter around the world.
The issue has prompted environmental organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency, to sound the alarm. Some local governments, like Suffolk County in New York, have instituted fines for littering involving masks and gloves, and police departments, like the one in Swampscott, Mass., have warned that improperly discarding P.P.E. is a crime.
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