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STORMWATER STRAIGHT TALK: Littering

Photo shows a close up of hands picking up trash off grass.

Littering, or improper disposal of waste, can cause many problems that affect humans, animals and the environment. Especially in this time of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic, proper disposal of trash, including personal protective equipment like masks and gloves, and cleaning supplies is critical.

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

Littering, or improper disposal of waste, can cause many problems that affect humans, animals and the environment. Especially in this time of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 pandemic, proper disposal of trash, including personal protective equipment like masks and gloves, and cleaning supplies is critical. Litter can create environmental and public health hazards.

Litter can look and smell unappealing in our streams, lakes, ponds and ditches. Trash that washes into storm drains can create clogs in the drainage system. These clogs can then lead to drainage backups and flooding of homes and buildings. Trash has the potential to spread bacteria and/or release toxins into the environment. If trash is swept up with stormwater, it can expose, not only people at the base and downgradient populations, but also the animals who live in the wetlands and rivers around Robins.

Litter can negatively impact animals in several ways. Animals may ingest trash that is not properly discarded, and the trash can produce toxic effects in their bodies. Animals may get entangled and trapped in trash, or harmed by sharp objects like broken glass and pins. Food scraps thrown out of cars attracts animals to roadways, increasing their likelihood of getting harmed.

Littering can also present a public health hazard during the COVID-19 pandemic. Public health experts have stated that, depending upon temperature and weather conditions, the coronavirus has the ability to survive on discarded masks and gloves up to a week. People picking up the litter may be unnecessarily exposed to the coronavirus.

The Robins Storm Water Management Plan states that, “Performing proper waste management practices protects storm water quality by minimizing or eliminating improper disposal practices.” 

To avoid the environmental and public health hazards of litter, be sure to:

- Dispose of waste in trash cans, bins, and dumpsters with lids (lids should be maintained closed);

- Maintain a trash receptacle in your vehicle.
- Do not leave PPE on the ground for others to pick up.
- Use a broom or stick to avoid using your hand if you are picking up discarded masks and gloves.
- Utilize the Recycling Center at Building 987 for recyclable materials.

By keeping up with these simple acts, you can help keep Robins clean and safe.

For more information, call (478) 222-2526.
 

Stormwater Straight Talk is a quarterly column intended to educate and inform base personnel and families about stormwater management.