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UWS student wants your help to research PPE litter and the impact on the environment

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SUPERIOR, WI. -- We've all seen it, a mask, or gloves, littered on the ground.

It's a new pandemic-related problem.

And if you see masks, gloves, or other PPE on the ground, UW-Superior junior Callie Lier wants you to take a picture.

She's using the location data, to map a pandemic of trash.

"If our city of Superior is having a big impact with this, how do you think even bigger cities are doing with this," said Lier.

From gas stations to grocery stores, and on the UW-Superior campus, Lier has collected more than 200 PPE data points in Superior alone.

"This is a very small town and then already we have more than 200 pieces and this means more people, more garbage," said Dr. Lorena Rios Mendoza, a UW-Superior professor.

Lier hopes to learn how the Coronavirus pandemic increased plastic use and plastic pollution overall.

"Plastic is a big problem in our environment and we need to find a different material that is better for the environment that doesn't harm it instead of plastic," said Lier.

Mendoza is hopeful the public will be more cautious when it comes to their masks.

"The mask is for health and the human protection but at the same time maybe the people don't think when they throw away the mask or the gloves on the street that this is a huge problem for the environment," said Mendoza.

By literally mapping out the problem, the pair wants to inspire change before it's too late.

"I am just really passionate about trying to find ways that we can change not necessarily how we live but just change some of our ways that we are not negatively affecting our environment," said Lier.

If you're in Superior and you snap a picture of PPE on the ground, you can send it to Lier at clier@uwsuper.edu

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Ryan Compeau

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