Littered gloves, backed up sewer lines become COVID-19 side effects

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Littered latex gloves in grocery store parking lots and clogged sewer lines are unanticipated byproducts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Viewers sent pictures to Action News, displaying assorted latex gloves strewn around grocery store parking lots around the Philadelphia area.

As more shoppers and store workers don gloves in stores in an attempt to ward off the coronavirus, 6abc Health reporter and registered nurse Ali Gorman said it's not the most effective solution.

"I don't really recommend it because if you're not using the gloves 100% correctly during that entire trip, then it's not going to help you," she said. "If you have gloves on and you continue to touch your face, maybe you're adjusting your glasses, maybe you take an ungloved hand and adjust the gloved hand, then you're just spreading the germs and it's not going to make a difference."

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Springfield Township in Delaware County has experienced its own unintended consequences with the coronavirus.

The township posted online that it is having sanitary sewer back-ups due to the excessive use of disinfectant wipes.

"These items do not disintegrate in the sewer system. We remind all residents to dispose these items in the normal trash stream," said a Springfield Township Facebook post.

Action News spoke with someone from a local plumbing company, who explained issues homeowners can face if not disposing of items properly.

"Toilet paper is designed to disintegrate as it gets flushed down the main sewer line. Lysol wipes, thick heavy rags, paper towels are not so, as a result, they get caught up in twists and turns in the sewer line and can cause major backup issues," said Brian Murphy, manager of Charles B. Gans Plumbing.

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Murphy added that not following guidelines can create costly problems for homeowners.

"You could have a backup in your main line from your basement out to the street and that could result in a major, major repair for you as the homeowner

Gorman recommended to not use latex gloves at all and save them for healthcare workers who need them.

"Wash your hands really well before you leave," said Gorman. "Get a disinfectant wipe when you get to the grocery store, wipe down that shopping cart, do your shopping and be very aware to not touch your face while you do your shopping."
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