Discarded surgical masks add to bio-hazard
Coronavirus Update, COVID-19, News

Discarded surgical masks add to bio-hazard

September 10, 2020

MCC to penalise people who do not dispose of masks in a responsible way

Mysore/Mysuru: Wearing a mask is the new normal, but what happens to the one-time use surgical masks? They are discarded on streets, sidewalks, gutters and roads. This habit of throwing masks and gloves along with other trash is a matter of growing concern in city.

Though gloves and masks come with proper disposal directions, people are indiscriminately throwing them on the roads. Discarded masks and gloves have been spotted in several places across the city, a few even flying off the open garbage bins. 

Pourakarmikas have been regularly complaining to the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) about this careless attitude that risks the lives of others. “We have been collecting several discarded masks and gloves while we are cleaning the roads in city. They are found in parking lots, residential colonies, sidewalks and around open garbage bins. People simply throw them on the roads after usage,” said a sanitation worker who wanted to remain anonymous. 

Used mask or gloves might turn out to be one of the biggest potential sources of virus transmission, according to medical experts. As research suggests that live COVID-19 virus particles can live on surface for anywhere between three hours and three days, the least citizens can do is to ensure that these masks are properly disposed of, said MCC officials. 

“People moving on bikes and travelling in cars or trucks slow down their vehicles near the garbage bins and throw the masks thinking that they will fall in the bins. But they don’t understand that the lightweight masks fly off instead of falling in the bins,” said another sanitation worker. 

When the rule of wearing masks outside homes was made mandatory, on an average, Pourakarmikas would find 50 to 100 discarded masks at any particular area. “These were use-and-throw masks and now as reusable cloth masks are available, people are using them after washing. Now, on an average, our Pourakarmikas collect over 15 to 20 discarded masks in a spot. Still this is risky and we have asked our ground staff to take all precautions while handling such discarded masks. They pick them up with gloves on hand,” MCC Health Officer Dr. D.G. Nagaraj told SOM. 

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He added that some clinics and hospitals were found irresponsibly discarding such masks and gloves. 

“We have caught them red-handed discarding masks, warned them and even issued notices. Now the menace has reduced,” he said. As per the provisions of Karnataka Municipal Act, the MCC can impose a fine of Rs. 500 to Rs. 1,000 for irresponsibly discarding masks and gloves. “We will take strict action against such people and will not hesitate to impose fine,” he added. 

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