New Common Litter: Face Masks around Milford


A discarded medical mask among common litter at Pains Road. Photo courtesy: Maria Garbin, Mar. 10

Maria Garbin, Staff Writer

     While walking around the city of Milford on any given day, people can spot many masks improperly discarded in various areas. Used surgical masks can be found in the roads, the sidewalks and even on the downtown green.

     The problem, obviously, is worldwide. An article in The Conversation states that face coverings, now a legal requirement in many public spaces around the world, are causing litter problems on land and at sea. “One February beach clean in Hong Kong found 70 masks along 100 metres of shoreline, with 30 more appearing a week later,” the article states. “In the Mediterranean, masks have reportedly been seen floating like jellyfish.”

     A January Sierra Club article also delves into the issue. “Masks have recently become one of the most littered items,” the article states. “Six months ago, masks were seldom found along roadsides or in parking lots. Now, discarded masks are found everywhere.” 

     Touching one of those used masks might be dangerous, as the World Health Organization (WHO) advises people to wash their hands before and after touching any mask, even their own. That should be followed by proper discarding, preferably in a closed bin.

     “I have seen multiple masks discarded right on the floor. I have also witnessed people throw them on the floor,” says junior Madison Sheppard. “I never pick them up or touch them. That person could transfer germs to me through their mask and I could potentially get others I love sick.”

Medical mask discarded at the Milford Green near a sign reinforcing social distancing. Photo courtesy: Maria Garbin, Mar. 14
Medical masks at the shore of Milford Landing Marina. Photo courtesy: Maria Garbin, Mar. 14
A reusable mask improperly discarded at the Milford Landing Marina. Photo courtesy: Maria Garbin, Mar. 14