SAULSALITO, Calif. - Bay Area volunteers are finding more and more discarded Personal Protection Equipment or PPE. The problem is they have plastic in them. Plastic does not break down.
Volunteers are finding PPE pollution almost everywhere.
"All over. From our streets and beaches, parks, walking trails," says Lynn Adams who is president of the Pacific Beach Coalition, a volunteer organization that often picks up litter.
In January the group recorded 744 pieces of discarded PPE. Last month it was more than over 600.
"One is too many. 700 is tragic," says Adams.
Volunteers are using an app through the ocean conservancy called Clean Swell.
Through the app, they can each track and quantify the kind of trash they are finding.
"The concern is as volunteers we know the litter that is on our streets and beaches flows out into the ocean and can be eaten and swallowed by whales and dolphins, entangle turtles and birds and small fish," says Adams.
The problem has the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito concerned.
"It can entangle them in packing straps or ear loops from masks. Or they can ingest it mistaking it for a jellyfish," says Adam Ratner of the Marine Mammal Center.
The Center says it hasn't seen any wildlife that has encountered PPE, but that doesn't necessarily mean it hasn't happened.
"The the fact that we are seeing so much plastic and PPE on the beach means there is a lot more out in the ocean," says Ratner.
The advice is to use reusable cloth masks and gloves and to be more mindful when disposing of used PPE.