Masks are essential for our protection against the COVID-19 pandemic. The masks are now made by leading designers in a variety of colors and designs and will likely continue to be worn by many people even after the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regardless of their life-saving characteristics, the use of these masks will create another issue: it will pollute the environment.
According to recent studies, humanity uses 129 billion face masks a month, or 3.000.000 masks per second. The amount of plastic containers we use is estimated at 43 billion per month with a significant portion of them having special rules to be able to reuse.
Such data do not exist for "covers", making it possible for most of them to end up in waste. Like any other plastic object, improper disposal of waste can cause plastic to enter the environment. The plastic pieces are spread in water and soil before they reach the animals for a long time.
The study's authors, experts Elvis Genbo Xu of the University of Southern Denmark and Zhiyong Jason Ren of Princeton, argue that the specifications of these masks make them particularly harmful to the environment.
How do I throw away a mask in an environmentally friendly way?
In April 2020, governments in many countries issued guidelines on how to properly dispose of COVID-19-related waste, saying that anyone infected with the virus should put their waste and that of their family in double bag and then in an outer box. The outer carton should be securely fastened and then kept separate from other debris.
For the masks, the World Health Organization (WHERE) says you have to throw the mask away in a certain way. To throw away the mask you must do the following:
- Clean your hands first
- Hold the mask by the rubber bands (do not touch the front of the cover)
- Remove the mask away from your face
- Quickly place it in a closed container
- Wash your hands with antiseptic or cleanser and water
The WWF raised concerns about improper disposal of masks, saying:
"Even if 1% of the masks were rejected incorrectly. This would bring about 10 million masks scattered around the environment each month. "Given that the mass of each mask is about 4 grams, this would mean the dispersal of more than 40 thousand kilograms of plastic in nature."
Unfortunately, garbage is not the only way these masks find their way into streams and oceans. Many throw them in the toilet.
Every country on earth in the last year is facing this pandemic. We all need to protect ourselves by wearing masks, but at the same time we need to throw away our masks in an environmentally friendly way.
We must commit to combating this pollution caused by COVID-19 masks.
Source of information: hackernoon.com