Featured Image Caption: Improper Disposal of Mask
COVID-19 has affected nearly 100 million people globally, and has claimed the lives of millions of people. Due to the pandemic, virtually every country has decreed that its citizens must wear face masks indoors, with some mandating outdoor mask usage too.
However, with billions of people wearing masks, billions of masks have either been thrown or dumped into the ecosystem. Many masks end up in the streets, as well as in landfills and the sea.
The result is the environment is impacted negatively, with sea life and other animals being harmed or killed in the process. Here, we will discuss the environmental impact of the improper disposal of facemasks.
Environmental Impacts of Covid-19
Greenhouse gas emissions and pollution levels have dropped drastically in many countries due to the pandemic. Many businesses, industries, and transport networks have been forced to close, either temporarily or permanently, due to COVID-19.
As a result, carbon emissions have dropped dramatically across many continents. Many factories have closed, and the use of coal has also dropped significantly in many countries. For example, coal use dropped by over 40% in many of China’s power plants soon after the pandemic hit. Waste management systems have also been impacted, with chemical usage reduced and a massive drop in the use of many plastics.
Use of Face Masks During the Pandemic
A face mask is designed to trap droplets propelled when a person sneezes, coughs, or talks. A person with COVID-19 but no symptoms (an asymptomatic case) may inadvertently spread the virus to those in their immediate vicinity. However, an infected person who wears a face mask will reduce the risk of spreading the virus to those near them.
Wearing a face mask can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and save countless lives. The need to wear face masks is even greater in 2021 due to the discovery of a new, more contagious strain of COVID-19.
By wearing a face mask, you will adhere to the law and encourage those around you to also wear their face masks. Social distancing must also be practiced when wearing masks, as face masks are not foolproof. As well as remaining at least six feet away from other people, it is also important to wash one’s hand diligently and avoid touching one’s mouth, nose, and eyes.
PPE and Face Mask Pollution
The majority of masks that are being manufactured are made with plastic materials that can last centuries in some cases. In some instances, the virus can last up to seven days on a discarded face mask.
People or animals that come across tainted litter can become infected with the virus. Due to the sheer mass of masks being dumped or thrown out, local ecosystems have become smothered or destroyed.
Some wildlife is also unable to tell the difference between a piece of garbage and potential prey. They may end up choking on a face mask or some of its accessories or parts. Smaller marine life creatures may also become entangled in some of the plastic, while others may die from malnutrition, as plastic may satisfy their hunger and provide no nutritional value.
Even worse, plastics eventually degrade and break down into microplastics and nanoplastics over time. Nanoplastics will accumulate and eventually reach the food chain, carrying bacteria, chemicals, and other harmful germs as they rapidly move up.
The washing of masks also consumes valuable resources. For instance, electricity, water, and detergent products must be used to wash reusable masks. Reusable masks also require filters that must be thrown out after each use, which further exacerbates masks’ global impact.
With billions of masks being used annually, most will end up in landfills, in the ocean, or on developing nations’ streets. PPE kits and face masks must be properly disposed of and sent to the appropriate disposal facilities to reduce the risk of infecting humans and animals.
How to Dispose of Masks Correctly
PPE kits must be disposed of under the strict supervision of a professional. An environment that has been sanitized must be used to dispose of PPE kits. Reusable items should be contained in separate containers, and hands should be washed diligently, with gloves on.
As for your apron or robe, you should lean forward and remove the item, ensuring that your hands do not become trapped in the process. Tear the robe or apron at the neck, and then roll the item down.
The back must then be untied before you roll the article forward. Next, wash your hands for a second time and then remove the first pair of gloves. Proceed to wash your hands a third time while keeping the second layer of gloves on.
In regards to your mask, you should untie the bottom string above your head first. Leave the string hanging before you undo the top string next. Proceed to dispose of the mask safely using a sanitized garbage/disposal bin before washing your hands.
If you are also wearing overshoes or rubber shoes, they must also be disposed of safely without touching them. Next, remove your second pair of gloves after having washed your hands. Finally, wash your ungloved hands before you leave the area.
Face Masks Disposal is a Major Environmental Concern
The improper disposal of face masks and gloves can lead to serious injuries or even the death of wildlife, marine life, and humans alike. It’s a major environmental concern that we have to be aware of and handle responsibly over the coming years.
A garbage bin rental can help dispose of used masks and gloves from your office or workplace. In addition to garbage bin rentals, PPE kits and face masks must be made with environmentally friendly materials for them to be used long-term.
To learn more about renting a dumpster to keep used masks out of our seas, contact your local garbage bin rental company.
By Devon Graham
who is a blogger in Toronto. He graduated with honours from the University of British Columbia with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing. Devon Graham is a community manager for small businesses across Canada. He also likes to research various topics related to pets, food, storage solutions and business solutions.