Disposable masks are essential as epidemic prevention products during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there has been a lack of effective attention to the disposal of the resulting waste masks.
According to Business Insider on Tuesday, people around the world use 129 billion face masks every month, or 3 million a minute. Discarded masks have permeated every corner of our lives.
Scientists and environmentalists warned against this kind of waste, especially a large number of waste containing plastic fiber masks to the rivers in nature, which may cause a serious ecological disaster, such as sea turtles, birds, and other animals have taken by rope masks, the serious word may result in the suffocation deaths.
The amount of mask waste in the UK soared nearly 90-fold in the first seven months after the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the results of a study in December 2021. A team led by Paul Sapp, a professor of chemical engineering at Swansea University in Wales, looked at several disposable masks on the market. When the masks are continuously immersed in water, they release nanoscale plastic, silicon, and heavy metal particles that contaminate the surrounding water. These masks release a surprising amount of toxic particles that affect the food chain in natural waters and human drinking water sources, Sapp said.
Experts point out that it is urgent to tackle the potential plastic waste crisis caused by disposable masks, which requires both technological and market measures in addition to government policies. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, are working with a start-up to develop N95 multiuse masks to reduce the amount of waste created by disposable masks. The multi-use masks will be available by the end of spring. In addition, measures to strengthen waste disposal are also important. Countries should establish centralized collection points for disposable masks so that masks after use can be uniformly disposed of.
According to the report, masks may be around for longer than we hoped. “We have to start addressing the problem before it gets out of hand.”