Use and where to throw

COVID-19 Environment

Irresponsible disposal of used masks and gloves puts cleaning workers under risk.

By Vivek Madhu

Alappuzha : The unscientific disposal of the use-and-throw protective gear, like masks and gloves, has proven to be hazardous for the health of those who pick them up while cleaning. Indian Medical Association says that such waste should be treated scientifically before disposal     .

There is an acute shortage of trash cans that are meant for the disposal of used masks and gloves. Experts believe that this causes worries for the health department.

Dr. Ravi Tharakan, who runs a private clinic in Alappuzha, says that the masks should not be used for more than six hours. “Cotton masks should be cleaned thoroughly before reusing. They must be dipped in antiseptic for half an hour, kept under the sun for drying and should be ironed before using again.

“Most of the people buy surgical masks, which are easily available and are cheap. These cannot be reused and they throw it away after the use,” he added.

The cleaning workers, who pick these discarded gloves and masks every day are putting their lives at risk . It is also causing problems to the garbage collectors as they have to separate these things from garbage.

Hari Kumar, an environmentalist, said that all municipalities and panchayats should have separate trash bins for the disposal of used masks and gloves. “The lack of these cans is the reason for this careless attitude of the people. Many rivers and ponds are now filled with used masks and gloves–which is a serious issue. It is harmful to aquatic life and whoever is exposed to these water bodies .” He also reminds the people not to carry used masks in their pockets and the need to burn them.

Ajinsai Jayaraj, a member of the Alappuzha Municipality , said the municipality will soon install dedicated trash bins for collecting used masks and gloves. “These masks will be treated biologically and will be burned later. Necessary steps are being taken care of.”


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