The University of Iowa

SAFETYmatters - Disposable Face Coverings

As individuals begin to return to campus, many are wearing face coverings (cloth face masks, disposable face masks, and/or face shields) as one means of helping to slow the spread of COVID-19.  Face coverings help people who may unknowingly have the virus from transmitting it to others.  Disposable face coverings when worn under these conditions, may be discarded in regular trash.

Face coverings worn to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 are different from those that are worn to protect an individual when handling hazardous material, otherwise known as personal protective equipment (PPE).  PPE must be disposed of appropriately, based on the hazard of use, which may necessitate disposal as biohazardous or chemical waste.   Various waste disposal practices can be found under the Waste/Environmental section of the EHS website.  Additional information can be found under the specific hazard section, Biological, Chemical or Radiation.  

If you have any questions regarding disposal practices, please email EHS at