Tossed masks and gloves threaten drainage systems ahead of hurricane season

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RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) — Gloves and face masks are posing a threat to drainage systems because they’re not being disposed properly.

Water bottles and trash bags are typically the things you find clogging up drainage systems, but now, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves, and Lysol wipes are on the rise. 

“During the pandemic we saw an increase in illegal dumping, a lot of the issues we normally don’t see definitely escalated more,” said Raul Sesin, General Manager for the Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 in Texas.

With people leaving their gloves outside of the supermarket or their masks at parks, Sesin said even the smallest form of litter is causing problems. 

“A lot of people think while they see the curb on the side of the street and say well I can throw it in there it’s going to wash away but you gather all that trash together it accumulates downstream and starts creating issues for us.” said Sesin.

Ahead of hurricane season, Sesin said it’s a crucial time to pick up after ourselves and properly dispose of PPE equipment, which can cause extensive flooding. 

According to Sesin, clearing out drainage systems typically takes weeks because of the amount of trash buildup. He said the best way to get rid of face masks and gloves is to dispose of them safely in the garbage.

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