The Covid-19 epidemic has left the planet with a long history of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, but without respiration, it has given the Earth a new environmental disaster: tiny gloves masks on beaches and sewer mouths. Several organizations have raised concerns that oceans, rivers, and sewers are increasingly disposable face masks, latex gloves, hand sanitizer bottles, and other non-recyclable personal protective equipment (PPE) items.
The French ocean conservation group Operation May Proper regularly records its sea clean-up operations on social media and says it has seen significantly more PPE fragments in the Mediterranean. Opération Mer Propre posted on Facebook May 20, “Very worrying about the new waste related to Covid… We pick [this kind of pollution] up at every clean now, mainly latex glove,”
“This is the first disposable mask to reach the Mediterranean,” The group wrote after the May 23 clean-up operation. “If it just starts and nothing changes, it will become an ecological disaster and even a [even] one of health.”
It’s not just Europe or the natural environment that is feeling the burning sensation. Several city authorities in the United States have reported that sewer and stormwater pumping stations are covered in latex gloves and face masks, which they believe are ruining many people’s toilets. Although there is still no information on the scale of the problem, the Associated Press contacted 15 city authorities in the United States, all of whom said they had had significant sewage and sewage problems since the epidemic began. It could be related to people flushing PPE or, as they say, it could be due to flushing options on toilet tissue in the early stages of lockdown panic buying.
In light of this pollution problem, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a statement urging citizens to dispose of PPE properly. Disinfectant wipes, gloves, masks, PPE, or any medical waste used in the consultation should not be placed in recyclable bins as these can be contaminated by germs and are considered a health risk.
A number of recycling organizations have called on the public to dispose of discarded masks and gloves safely. It should also be noted that littering PPE is gross, incoherent, and dangerous, so be sure to put safely used PPE safely without a proper general refuse bin if you are in public.
David Biderman, executive director and CEO of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), said in a statement, “No one should use plastic gloves or masks on the ground in any parking lot or throw them in the bushes.” “Discarding contaminated PPE in the soil increases the risk of exposure to COVID-19 and has a negative impact on the environment.”