Since the start of the Wuhan coronavirus, Americans have been wearing masks and gloves to protect themselves and their loved ones from contracting the virus. The number of people wearing gloves and homemade masks have spiked in recent weeks as the Center for Disease Control updated their guidelines. The new guidelines suggest Americans wear masks when going to places like grocery stores. The goal is to protect others in case the person wearing the mask is asymptomatic, meaning they're infected with the virus but are not experiencing symptoms.
While this change has been seen across the country, there have been two problems: cross-contamination and littering.
In Philadelphia, face masks, gloves and sanitizing wipes are now clogging the city's sewer system.
"The information I've received says we typically see around 100lbs of material like this within a year. We've seen about a 100lbs of this material since mid-March," Philadelphia Water Department official Laura Copeland told NBC 10.
According to the water department, the trash could back up the sewer system's pumps, which could cause the city's water system to go "offline." The trash could also end up in streams and rivers.
Copeland said having to fetch this garbage will spike costs, which will ultimately be passed down to consumers.