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Thousands of Face Masks and Gloves Are Washing up on L.A.’s Beaches

10:54 AM PST on December 30, 2020

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap] car bumper, a dead raccoon, 15 tennis balls, socks, and miles upon miles of personal protective equipment from Malibu to Redondo Beach were among the concerning list of items that washed up on L.A. County beaches after the season’s first storm rolled in. 

Specifically, face masks and gloves, a representative from Heal the Bay tells L.A. Taco. “Volunteers [collected] several PPE face masks along the high tide line, and this is the first year PPE has been found during the first flush.” The environmental advocacy group of activists based in Santa Monica, California, held a volunteer cleanup effort the day after the storm. The team of “first responder volunteers” is known as the Storm Response Team and their goal is to remove trash and debris before it heads out to sea.

This is on top of the usual garbage pieces that their volunteers also reported to collect: plastic bags, plastic bottles, bottle caps, food wrappers, containers, Styrofoam pieces, and coffee cups. However, while this first downpour brought in the most concentrated amounts of PPE yet, Heal the Bay informs L.A. Taco that their volunteer team has reported up to 2,000 pieces of personal protective equipment over the last six months. 

As all L.A. restaurants continue to operate via takeout and delivery only per L.A. County Health orders, “mountains of trash” are also being produced. Personal protective equipment is also washing up on the beaches of northern California. While there are no exact numbers on just how much of this protective gear meant to protect against COVID-19 is ending up on California’s shores, a study published last summer by Environmental Science & Technology estimates “a significant portion” is ending up in the world’s oceans.

Photos courtesy of Heal the Bay. 

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