Tags: Coronavirus | coronavirus | ppe | waste | environment

Pandemic Creating Devastating Amounts of PPE Waste

discarded surgical mask in grass
Terri Brown, a volunteer with Pacific Beach Coalition, prepares to use a grabber tool to pick up a discarded surgical mask while picking up trash near Pacifica Esplanade Beach on April 3, 2021 in Pacifica, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 21 April 2021 12:56 PM

April is Earth Month and Earth Day is Thursday, but and as the pandemic persists, we are witnessing a devastating rise in the environmental hazard of personal protective equipment pollution that is choking our oceans and marine life.

According to Good Morning America, it is estimated that 129 billion face masks and 75 billion gloves are being used each month to safeguard against COVID-19. These life-saving tools have had a deadly effect on our oceans, say experts.

“We absolutely believe that PPE waste is a significant threat to oceans and marine life,” said Dr. George Leonard, chief scientist at the nonprofit advocacy group, Ocean Conservancy. Leonard warns that with as much as 8 million metric tons of plastic already choking the world’s oceans, pandemic-driven trash can create a tipping point in water pollution, according to CNN Business.

Dr. Deborah Brosnan, Ph.D., the president and founder of Deborah Brosnan & Associates, an international scientific consulting company that provides smart solutions to environmental risks and climate change, tells Newsmax:

“Face masks have become the new plastic straws, mass produced and mass discarded, unfortunately into the oceans. Mask-wearing is barely a year old and conservation groups are already fishing them out of the sea by the tens of thousands.”

Brosnan says that plastics and microplastics are some of the greatest threats to marine life and to humanity.

“Studies show that they make their way up the food chain and are harmful to top predators like whales, as well as smaller creatures.,” she says. “Autopsies on sea turtles show that over half of them have stomachs filled with plastic. We are in the midst of this pandemic because of our disregard for nature.”

Andriana Fragola, a marine biologist, predicts a chilling outcome to this pollution.

“We’re at a tipping point right now,” she tells GMA. “There are estimates that say by 2048 we are going to have more plastic in our ocean than fish. With all the plastic that has been used, especially with the pandemic going on, it is just overwhelmingly approaching, and it is coming fast.”

Here are some steps we can take to minimize the damage to our environment:

  1. Wear a reusable mask. You can easily wash them by hand or in the machine, says Fragola, so keep several on hand.
  2. Snip the loops off your single-use masks. Use scissors to remove the elastic loops.
  3. Try face masks that use sustainable materials. Fragola says that hemp and bamboo are materials that are compostable, according to GMA.
  4. Dispose of your PPE in a secure trash can. Ensure that the materials cannot leak into the environment if the bin tips over. To properly dispose of pandemic-driven products, the Department of Ecology, State of Washington, says all PPE should be bagged and placed in dumpsters or unlined trash receptacles. The bags should be tied closed before disposal.
  5. Try to reduce your overall plastic consumption. To keep plastics out of the ocean and reduce its presence in our environment, limit single-use plastics.

“We need to be kinder to our environment,” Brosnan tells Newsmax. “Follow the guidelines, wear a non-disposable mask, and if you do use a disposable mask make sure you dispose of it properly in secured trash, and ultimately reduce single-use plastic.”

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April is Earth Month and Earth Day is Thursday, but and as the pandemic persists, we are witnessing a devastating rise in the environmental hazard of personal protective equipment pollution that is choking our oceans...
coronavirus, ppe, waste, environment
Wednesday, 21 April 2021 12:56 PM
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