NBC 5 Responds

Used Masks and Gloves Force Stores to Clean Up Mess

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Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) started encouraging all Americans to wear a mask when they step out in public, we’re seeing more wearing them as well as gloves to protect themselves from the spread of the coronavirus. 

But with that comes a potential health hazard. Across North Texas and beyond, people are tossing out their used gloves and masks before they get back in their car. 

“I noticed just a lot of people throwing their gloves on the ground and leaving it in the cart for somebody else to handle when they are 20 feet from a trash can,” shopper Tyler Preston said.

Earlier this week, NBC 5 Responds went to several stores in North Dallas and Richardson.  At every store we visited, we spotted dirty gloves and used masks littering parking lots, leaving stores to clean up the mess.

Photos: Used masks and gloves force stores to clean up mess

Outside a Lowes in Richardson, used gloves were tossed out just a few feet from the entrance.  We also spotted gloves in the neighboring parking lot out outside Target.

At an Aldi off Preston and Alma, we found a used mask and used gloves left in front of the store.

Near one parking lot off Spring Valley and Plano Road in Richardson, we found not one but three sets of used gloves that had been tossed out.  And just a few parking rows over someone left behind two used gloves that appear as if they took them off while they were walking back to their car.

And at the Walmart off 635 and Midway, we spotted several blue gloves across the parking and a used mask near a set of carts just a few feet from a trashcan.

"This is litter, and we have to treat it like it's potentially contaminated," said Dr. John Carlo, epidemiologist and head of the Dallas Medical Society.

"It's certainly not a good idea to leave them outside, or leave them where somebody else might come into contact with them," added Dr. Carlo.

At the Kroger in Richardson, we spotted several gloves and a mask left behind in the parking lot. 

In a statement, Kroger says they, “use a commercial cleaning service in all stores 3 times per week.  The remaining days, store associates are asked to clean the lot of trash while taking all precautions necessary to perform their job.”

NBC 5 reached out to Lowes, Aldi and Walmart but have not received a response.

In an email, Target responded saying their, “team members are following CDC guidelines as we work to create a safe shopping environment,” but did not respond about how they’re addressing this specific issue.

The Lowes in Richardson has placed buckets at every cart return but people still seem to be missing the point.

Dr. Carlo suggests that people who are wearing masks should really take ownership and make sure it is properly discarded.

"If you do come into contact with a mask that's not yours, you definitely want to take precautions and treat it as if it might be contaminated. You certainly want to quickly discard that object and wash your hands afterward -- a good hand washing...I think that's good advice,” said Dr. Carlo.

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