The COVID pandemic is creating a new type of litter, masks and gloves. Since the beach has been on a soft open, one can easily pick up 4-7 masks and gloves a day. – 1 Mile stretch of beach. My friend Steve Spacek has been an ardent anti-litter advocate, writing about the best and worst states for littering. You can read more on his site the litterscorecard.com
This was an article he wrote for Earth Day about littering of hazardous waste by various cities in the United States.
WASHINGTON D.C. May, 2020] As Americans celebrated the 50th Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22, those in a few major metropolises — already suffering from widespread, visible littering and dumping of potentially virus-breeding waste– must endure an extra burden: personal survival within a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – labeled “hotbed” for deadly Covid-19 cases, said Steve Spacek, director of the?American State Litter Scorecard?and a public performance specialist.
New York, Los?Angeles,?New?Orleans,?Miami,?Detroit,?and?Baltimore?— current CDC epicenters for the coronavirus, along with?Houston, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Memphis,?and?Nashville?— communities with ‘modest’ case totals, make for the?Scorecard’s?Earth Day 2020 list, of fifteen major US Cities?laden with excess, unabated waste on public properties.
Sources such as the U.S. Census Bureau, National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), Busy Bee Cleaning Services,?TRAVEL+LEISURE?and?Forbes, plus municipality-supplied data were reviewed and measured, to make a selection from several dozen communities with a minimum population of 375,000, said Spacek.
According?to?the?US?Environmental?Protection?Agency?and?Public?Health,?Virology?and?Science?Daily?journals,?improp-erly disposed solid wastes upon roads, sidewalks, trails and in parks are capable to breed, transmit fatal viruses and diseases, including Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Malaria, Zika, and Coronavirus, to living hosts. Cigarette filters, paper food packaging, plastic beverage containers and retail-issued bags are prime waste sources for breeding and transmittal, along with tire treads, metal shrapnel and decaying tree wood, said Spacek. Speculation in the media concurs the coronavirus may have developed last November from diseased animal remains sold at “open-air wet markets” in Wuhan, China.
Statistics obtained from the NHTSA’s?Fatality Analysis Reporting System?show that since 2010,?over 800 Americans have died each year– approximately 3 killed per day–from overwhelmingly vehicular (and a few non-vehicular, pedestrian) incidents with unabated public spaces wastes and debris.?These accidents can occur anytime and under all types of weather conditions,?Spacek?said. In 2017 (latest year available for released figures) New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Detroit and New Orleans?had?the?most?urban-based fatalities,?he?added.?
Since?the?first?Earth?Day?in?1970?to the present,?Gallup Polling has found a majority of Americans have great concern for pollution and its management by government. Said Spacek, “These 15 communities are big-time failures to citizens. Elected officials, workers, contractors acted much too lax and indifferent. Way too many sidewalks, streets, parks, streams with filthy wastes never, ever removed. Too much waste entering private landfills or burned with noxious smoke emissions. Several recycling programs lack backbone and moral support, especially in Memphis, New York, Houston, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Indianapolis. Sadly, high-littered corona-virus hotbeds appear willing to pay an ultimate price for not duly-practicing Green virtues: senseless deaths.”
In response to the amount of littered gloves, a new movement called the #theglovechallenge to encourage people to pick up gloves littered the streets. More information available of The Glove Challenge
Discarded Masks Becoming Health Hazard ..During a walk around his block in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Mark Benfield was struck by how many discarded gloves and masks he saw on his short route.
Discarded Masks Becoming Safety Hazard…Santella said the coronavirus, depending upon temperature and weather conditions, can live on masks and gloves for a few days, even up to a week.
“They do not degrade,” Sejal Choksi-Chugh, executive director of the nonprofit environmental group San Francisco Baykeeper, said. “Plastic gloves don’t degrade.” Coronavirus Trash: Face Masks, Plastic Gloves Discarded on Streets
STEVE SPACEK?is based in the Washington, DC area. TWITTER:?@litterscorecard?FACEBOOK:?https://www.facebook.com/Americanstatelitterscorecard-629752587167391