Disposable gloves and Covid-19


Sir, – Covid-19 has highlighted to us all the importance of our health and our role in preventing the spread of disease. We’ve all played our part. Hand-washing, face coverings and social distancing have become part of our daily routine. Keeping hands clean by regularly washing and disinfecting them is a vital step in preventing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19).

Healthcare workers bear the brunt of exposure to the virus and so must be well-protected with gloves, gowns, masks, and goggles, frequently changing their gloves and washing their hands. Many people have started wearing disposable gloves during everyday activities like shopping. While gloves may make you feel safe, there’s good evidence against using them outside a healthcare setting.

The Covid-19 virus does not discriminate – it contaminates gloves and hands in exactly same way. Viruses and bacteria build up over time on gloves and when they are removed they can contaminate your skin and hands, helping these germs pass between you and your loved ones. Evidence shows that when people wear gloves they wash their hands less frequently and risk passing germs to others. For these reasons, the HSE and World Health Organisation recommend against using disposable gloves for daily errands. Instead, hands should be regularly cleaned with soap and water or hand-sanitiser.

And after all this where do used gloves end up? Trollies, bins, streets, bus seats, just like other rubbish, except heavily contaminated with germs. They can pollute our towns, seas and scenic areas. More plastic waste when the science says we don’t need them.

Cleaning your hands regularly protects you. Instead of gloves, try bringing a small bottle of hand-sanitiser when you go out next. It’s quick and easy, and scientifically proven. – Yours, etc,


(Irish Doctors for

the Environment),


of Microbiology,

Tallaght University

Hospital, Dublin 24.