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San Francisco has a new pollution problem thanks to the pandemic: Used masks, gloves, and other PPE litter the Bay Area


The City by the Bay continues to trash itself

Image source: KNTV-TV video screenshot

The San Francisco Bay Area has gained a reputation for being pretty trashy.

The garbage problem in San Jose has gotten so bad that the city last week launched a new "Cash for Trash" program to pay homeless people to pick up garbage.

San Francisco's district attorney announced last November that he would not be prosecuting any so-called "quality-of-life crimes," including public urination, camping on the streets, blocking sidewalks, and sex solicitation.

And everybody is aware of the City by the Bay's poop problem: Actual human waste on the streets of a major American city has become such a problem that elected officials had to create a "Poop Patrol" to deal with it.

Now San Francisco is dealing with a new pollution problem tied directly to the pandemic: Used masks, gloves, and other PPE being discarded in the streets by its citizens.

What's that?

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday that the "fall flush" of rain during the stormy season pushed more than just the usual trash into streams, creeks, rivers, and the bay.

Now the Bay Area is dealing with a surge of PPE waste in the waterways.

In fact, the problem has reached such a level that the California Coastal Commission said it had to create a new trash category for masks and gloves, according to the Chronicle.

PPE came in No. 12 on the commission's list of 50 types of debris, KNTV-TV reported, ranking between plastic cups and beverage lids.

This number was "extraordinarily high," the station said, "considering this is the first time PPE has made the list."

Save the Bay's executive director, David Lewis, lamented the pandemic's impact on pollution.

"There's so much COVID trash," he told the paper. "People might think it's just a little trash and it's unsightly, but it's actually having an environmental impact."

"We're all generating a lot more trash and much of it is ending up as litter on our streets," Lewis told KNTV.

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