Disposable Products Due to Covid 19 Causing Issues:
There are many measures currently being taken worldwide to save the environment. However Covid 19, has complicated this situation and the disposal of masks, gloves and other PPE products are adding significantly to the environmental pollution. It is an alarming situation.
On a daily basis we see used masks thrown into open spaces causing many environmental issues, these discarded face masks can leak nano plastics and heavy metal and can harm the environment more than plastic bags. The mask can gather up in freshwater systems, oceans and streams and can generate a large amount of micro-sized particles while there is a very short period.
According to Dr Sarper the project leader of research into disposal masks at Swansea University, these masks are a big environmental threat. He stated that before the pandemic industries were driving changes to packaging materials including the banning of plastic bags in many countries. However when the pandemic arrived, disposals of plastic masks were on a large scale. He stated that everyone needs to set the priority. The priority is to eradicate Covid 19 as soon as possible and the next important priority is to take steps for protecting the environment in the aftermath of this pandemic.
According to Dr Geraint Sullivan, the results of what was contained within the mask material were quite shocking. The types of toxins found in masks include traces of antimony, cadmium, and lead which are toxic even in a low dose. These heavy metals were “bio-accumulative” which means they cannot be removed from water and can build up over time. The main issue/concern with these masks is that when thrown in hundreds and millions they will cause a huge impact on and add to considerably to environmental issues. Swansea University is continuing with this research.
According to the studies, there are almost 129 billion face masks that are thrown out globally every month. And there are 3 million masks thrown every minute. Almost all of these masks are made up of plastic microfibers.
When we talk about the disposal of masks, these are on a similar scale as plastic bottles. Plastic bottles are thrown at 43 billion per month, however there are guidelines on the disposal of these bottles. When it comes to masks, currently there are no official guidelines on correct disposal and as a result, they are thrown out like normal waste.
This is a very concerning environmental issue that we need to be aware and take responsibility for and let’s hope it will soon be addressed officially and that standardized waste disposal guidelines are put in place.