Use of face masks: Protection and contamination
The pandemic has modified our way of living, just in a few weeks the routines and the way of living changed: hand washing must be constant and we must wear masks and even gloves when leaving the house, this to avoid transmitting or infecting ourselves with the Covid-19, a virus that has infected millions of people around the world. The good news is that the population is taking the pandemic very seriously, on the contrary, a trend that has increased in recent months is the contamination created by disposable medical equipment, that is, face masks and gloves. After the reincorporation of economic activities, the demand for masks has increased exponentially, while only one month China exported more than 4 million face masks. The consequence of the return of activities has brought a new global threat: thousands of masks that invade landfills and oceans around the world, once again causing the alteration of ecosystems aimed at their destruction.
Given this, the French association Clean Sea Operation warns that this situation is new for the world because it is about masks, however it is a reflection of the same regression where plastic waste accumulates, the product of a world culture of "use and throw away" aggravated by a negligible recycling rate.
Also in February 2020, the environmental organization OceansAsia published a photo of masks found on the beaches of Hong Kong. Now it is very likely that this type of contamination will begin to be seen in the rest of the world, in greater numbers. It has been pointed out that in the face of the pandemic, people have protected themselves as much as possible, but they are doing it incorrectly and they are not being disposed of in an environmentally safe way. The materials are partially or completely constructed with plastic that is not recyclable and that when not properly disposed of, degrades into microplastics and can end up in our food chain. It has been explained that the correct way to dispose of them is to remove them by holding the cords or elastics and fold them a couple of times inwards, taking care not to touch the front of the mask. and deposit it in a garbage can with a bag and a lid. Did you know that a mask takes more than 400 years to disintegrate? and if it is found in the sea it not only threatens species such as fish, jellyfish and coral reefs but also human life. Until environmental protection is a priority and the waste treatment system is improved, human well-being and health cannot be guaranteed.