The uses of face masks in the pandemic situation are getting higher since people have to wear it all the time. By using face masks, it will help to protect us from the spread of Covid-19 but it also creates a new issue regarding to the plastic pollution.
Disposable face masks are made from multiple plastic fibbers and polypropylene, that will remain in the environment for decades or maybe centuries, fragmenting into smaller and smaller microplastics and nano plastics. It says that the single face masks can release as many as 173,000 microfibers per day into the seas, according to a study in Environmental Advances. Other studies forecasted that the amount of plastic waste or face masks waste in the ocean will be triple in the next 20 years.
Here are the reasons why disposable face masks are bad as plastic pollution:
1. The increasement of face masks sales driven to pollution
Quoted from National Geographic, the Scientists have recorded their presence on South American beaches, river outlets in Jakarta Bay, in Bangladesh, on the coast of Kenya, and on the uninhabited Soko Islands in Hong Kong. Discarded PPE has clogged street drains from New York City to Nairobi, and has gummed up machinery in the municipal sewage system in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The UN trade body, UNCTAD, estimates that global sales will total some $166 billion this year, up from around $800 million in 2019.
2. Toxic Problem
The data indicator is estimated that around 75% of the used face masks will end up in landfill or floating in the seas. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) estimated that the environmental damage, the financial cost in areas such as tourism and fisheries at around $40 billion.
3. Water Pollution
According to a Hong Kong – based environmental group, there will be more than 1.5 billion disposable face masks will wind up in the world’s ocean and polluting the water with tonnes of plastic and endangering marine wildlife this year.
The face masks are not only releasing microbes, but the mask trap is also killing the marine life as they can suffocate by it.