Mobilize Power Sweeping Industry for Nightly Pavement Cleaning and Sanitizing Campaign

Last Updated Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Sweeping Industry Should be Mobilized to Provide Ongoing Pavement-Based Sanitation Efforts

News outlets throughout the United States are reporting a serious, emerging health problem from discarded masks, gloves and other potentially contaminated detritus in parking lots, on walkways and along highways.

A few of the many recent national articles on this topic:

Masks and gloves are used to help stop the spread of coronavirus. The way they’re disposed of are putting people, animals at risk.

Latex gloves, masks found littered on ground around St. Louis area amid COVID-19 outbreak.

SJ police: Throw used masks, rubber gloves in the trash, not on the ground

Please Stop Throwing Your Used Gloves And Masks On The Ground

WSA/WorldSweeper Contact With CDC April 3, 2020

On April 3rd we were able to reach the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) via telephone:
  • WSA provided information about the masks, gloves and other potentially contaminated debris that was being discarded on the parking lots of businesses still operating.
  • WSA explained to the CDC representative, Allison, what a parking area sweeper was, as well as how it used a dust suppression system to keep down dust while in operation.
  • WSA provided the information that if sanitizer was added to these dust suppression systems the sweepers could help disinfect pavement as they swept and suggested the parking lot sweeping industry be mobilized to do so.
  • WSA reported that many ‘essential retail businesses,’ due to shrinking revenue, had cut back on sweeping frequency, some to as little as one sweep per week. We strongly recommended that nightly sweeping be required for all such establishments to maintain a higher level of sanitation for patrons.
  • WSA suggested that municipal sweepers around the U.S. could also be mobilized for similar work.
  • Allison said she understood what was being said and, as a result, felt our question “should be escalated to the next level as a priority medical request. However,” she continued “you should not expect an answer for 7-to-10-days given the current number of such escalated requests.”
  • At that juncture WSA offered to provide an email for her to pass along, one detailing the information we had given her verbally. WSA was told “We are not set up to receive emails at this time.”
We received a response from the CDC on April 28th. Unfortunately, only the sentence in quotes pertained to one of our questions: “There are unintended consequences and extra precautions that would need to be considered if additional chemicals were added to street sweepers.” Also included were some standard, boiler-plate, links. You can see the entire response as a Word doc or as a PDF. This was our response back to the CDC, which was sent via the CDC’s contact form. On May 1st received an email response saying only “Your comments have been forwarded to the appropriate CDC program for their information.”

WSA/WorldSweeper Contact With FEMA April 7, 2020

Recognizing the urgency given the fast-paced COVID-19 pandemic, on April 7th we contacted the Federal Emergency Management Administration via email. In that message we explained in detail the nature of the problem. This included links to previous news articles of concern about this emergent health hazard. To date we have not received a response back from FEMA.

Further context and additional parking area sanitizing information:

We understand that major retail chains, such as Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, Target, etc., may soon be aiding cities by allowing their parking lots to be used as potential COVID-19 testing sites. This means it is imperative the pavement be cleaned and disinfected by parking lot sweepers on at least a nightly. Also – especially given the long lines required in order to meter the amount of people entering these same stores – they should not be standing adjacent to this discarded trash. Bystanders will very likely come into contact with this material, children will pick some up, etc. This is yet another reason for increased utilization of parking lot sweepers, most of whom also are contracted to empty garbage cans as needed, to combat the advancement of the pandemic.

Additional Street-Class Sweeper Capabilities

Parking lot sweepers can, via sanitizer-infused dust suppression systems, help to sanitize parking lots while sweeping each night. In addition, many if not most street-class sweepers also offer high pressure washdown systems that can be utilized for off-street sanitizing and cleaning. Many thanks to Elgin Sweeper Company, the largest sweeper manufacturer in the United States, for developing a video clearly illustrating the off-road washdown capabilities of street-class sweepers. The video, embedded below, was uploaded on April 3rd to Elgin’s Facebook account, and microsite. Between April 3rd and April 8th this video had been watched on Facebook over 47,000 times and has reached a total over 105,000 people. These numbers continue to grow daily about 10k and 20k respectively.

Ranger Kidwell-Ross, editorThe preceding message was written by: Ranger Kidwell-Ross, M.A. Editor, Executive Director, World Sweeping Association Please direct questions and comments via the comment section below or via email sent to: You may also text or call 360.739.7323.
WSA Slogan

Leave a Reply