Discarded face masks littering Tullamore streets

Camilla McLoughlin

Reporter:

Camilla McLoughlin

Discarded face masks littering Tullamore streets

Street cleaner Loughlin Sweeney is left to pick up discarded face masks

TULLAMORE is fast becoming a waste receptacle for discarded face masks. The high volume of masks thrown on footpaths and along the edges of roads is causing disgust among locals.

It is now mandatory to wear a face covering when shopping or entering other enclosed areas, for our own safety and that of others. However, it appears that many people will throw their used masks just about anywhere afterwards. This is completely at cross purposes as to why they are wearing the mask in the first place.

In addition those responsible for throwing away masks may well have Covid-19, making used masks hazardous.

It has now become almost impossible to walk down the town without seeing at least one mask thrown on the footpath.

Tullamore street cleaner Loughlin Sweeney who is up at 6am every morning cleaning up the streets after us, says people are even throwing masks out through car windows. He and other street cleaners are picking up dozens every day. Loughlin has to make sure his litter picker is put in a bag when he is finished work each day as he doesn't want it touching anything in his car.

Throwing masks on the street is a serious health hazard as children could easily pick them up. It is also unfair to expect street cleaners to pick up a mask that could have the covid virus on it.

The HSE has issued this advice to safely dispose of a single-use mask:

remove it from behind - do not touch the front of the mask
throw it away immediately into a closed bin
wash your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
dispose of it in your general 'black bag' waste bin at home or work, or a litter bin if you’re outside
do not put them in a recycling bin as they cannot be recycled
take them home with you if there is no litter bin - do not drop them as litter.