(CBS)- Used gloves and masks are showing up in places other than the garbage, and personal protective gear is being found in parking lots, on streets and in grassy fields.

Health officials said it could pose a health risk during the pandemic.

“If you’re wearing gloves or a mask, please dispose of those items properly in a trash can,” one official said.

“Don’t drop them in a store; don’t drop them on the ground outside. You’re putting others’ health at risk, and ultimately, by putting anyone’s health at risk, you’re putting everyone’s health at risk.”

Health experts said while people are being proactive when it comes to protecting themselves, it’s better to save N-95 masks for health workers on the front lines.

“To see those discarded is disturbing,” said Betsey Wingfield, Deputy Commissioner Environmental Quality.

Wingfield said when people discard their personal protective gear in a place other than the garbage, they are also putting sanitation department workers at risk.

Like us, those people have families, and some have underlying health risks of their own.

“I know that our solid waste infrastructure and the people that support it are working really, really hard to make sure to continue to pick up your trash,” she said. “I think it’s a really important time for people to take care of each other.”

Wingfield said the sanitation department is also seeing people throw items down the toilet that should be thrown in the garbage.

This, in turn, clogs up sewer systems, making it harder for sanitation workers to do their jobs.