Hundreds of millions of used and dirty medical gloves have been imported into the United States, even as health officials advise against using them in health care settings, according to a new investigation by ProPublica. To keep them from fouling the nation’s wastewater system, companies lease the gloves from medical equipment factories. But even in a factory, the dirt on the gloves triggers pollution, and those contaminates have spread around the United States.
The New York Times reports that New York is facing a $13 million lawsuit from the city’s three largest landfills over the questionable waste that came from the facilities. “Tons and tons” of gloves were rejected by hospitals and health care facilities around the country after coming into contact with hospitals, cutting platforms, and operating rooms, according to the Times. Those FDA violations included filthy gloves covered in dust and grime that contained mold and blood.
“The gloves were deliberately unclean, sometimes unlaundered, and often littered with junk mail, bottles, medical waste and prescription drugs,” reads the Journal’s report. “One factory manufactured millions of gloves a month while avoiding appropriate sanitation to clean and deodorize them, according to EPA records, even as other workers used them daily.”
Those clothes spread beyond the disposal sites that New York’s landfills have to cope with, and trash from manufacturers end up in the Hudson River, where they are accidentally ingested by dolphins, birds, and other animals. According to ProPublica, the “radical innovation” of looking to the U.S. as a global market for medical gloves comes from the glove manufacturing companies themselves.
Read the full story at The New York Times.
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