VIDEO: WTOP anchor finds 100+ used gloves, masks littered around Northwest DC

glove on ground
A used latex glove was found on the ground in a Washington, D.C., neighborhood during a WTOP investigation. (WTOP/Ken Duffy)

In a single weekend in May, WTOP anchor Ken Duffy found more than 100 pieces of discarded personal protective equipment across just a handful of streets in Northwest D.C.

Over the course of more than four hours of walking between Saturday, May 16, and Sunday, May 17, Duffy covered stretches of major thoroughfares such as Wisconsin, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Western avenues.

Duffy discovered 105 pieces of equipment — more than 20 used masks and more than 80 latex gloves — thrown on the ground or grass by pedestrians, commuters and drivers.

Several gloves were found left in the middle of sidewalks, on street corners and near eateries where patrons had parked their cars.


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Others, such as blue surgical face coverings, were dropped at bus stops and near public benches.

At least one used N95 mask was left just feet from the entrance of a residential building.

A canvassing of Wisconsin Avenue Northwest between Western and Massachusetts avenues accounted for around half the overall total of personal protective equipment Duffy found.

The worst concentration was near tennis courts and fields along the 3800 block of Wisconsin Avenue Northwest in the McLean Gardens neighborhood, where a half-dozen face coverings and gloves were scattered.

Health experts have said leaving used gloves and face coverings on the ground poses a health hazard.

Last week, Mayor Muriel Bowser rolled out the “Not in My DC” litter prevention campaign and kicked off the fourth annual Great Graffiti Wipeout.

When WTOP asked D.C.’s Department of Public Works for comment about specific protocol concerning collection of loose gloves and masks on city streets and who’s responsible, the agency provided this statement:

In partnership with the District Department of Health, the Department of Public Works is continuing to monitor reports of and develop a plan to collect discarded personal protective equipment being disposed of throughout the District. D.C. law requires each owner, tenant, or leasee to properly maintain the public space from the property line into the roadway. The law also requires that business owners maintain the public space, which includes sidewalks to the treebox, right up to the curb.

D.C. recently extended its pandemic restrictions and stay-at-home order until June 8. Bowser cited the continued spread of COVID-19 in the District, but she recently reported eight straight days of decreased community spread.

The District would need 14 consecutive days before considering the first phase of lifting safety restrictions.

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