Environmental Impacts Of Disposable Covid-19 Face Masks

medical waste is being produced at high rates due to disposable face masks

INTRODUCTION

At the end of 2019, the time of the Earth just got into the swirl and it seems like it is not getting out of the strong rotating force. The time swirl has taken many lives on the Earth and more severe waves are coming and engulfing humans in strange manners. You cannot say how it will have its effects on the individual.

Check out Impact of Corona virus Pandemic on the Environment of Pakistan

COVID-19

The time swirl we are talking about is a pandemic that started in 2019 and still it is continue. COVID-19 is a disease caused by a coronavirus. Now the virus has different variants that are causing severe health complications in humans.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are varying from person to person.

PRECAUTIONARY MEASURE IMPLEMENTED DURING COVID-19

World Health Organization is issuing precautionary measures from time to time. When the COVID-19 started, some precautionary measures were suggested and strictly implemented all around the world.

  • The coronavirus enters the human body through the eyes, nose, and mouth. So WHO made it compulsory to wear N95 face masks that would prevent coronavirus spread from person to person.
  • Hand sanitizers /washing hands multiple times during a day for twenty seconds were included in preventive measures. Read: Harmful Effects of Excessive Use of Hand Sanitisers – Covid-19
  • Social distancing by ensuring 6 feet distance was made necessary.
  • Lockdown was also one of those precautionary measures.

DISPOSABLE FACE MASKS USED DURING COVID-19

As mentioned above the use of disposable face masks was included in necessary precautionary measures during COVID-19. The demand for facemasks surge and the world faced a shortage of facemasks. Why so? The world was not ready for such a situation and N95 face masks were used by medical staff only.

However, the vaccination process is practiced and many people are vaccinated up till now. But it is being suggested that one has to wear a face mask even after getting vaccinated. This is because the person can still become infected with the virus but with fewer health problems, and they can also transmit the virus to other people.

At some places in the world where the choice is given whether or not to wear face masks, the medical staff all around the world is still carrying the personal protective equipment for safety measures.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF DISPOSABLE FACE MASKS

Disposable face masks ever since it is made compulsory do not only have financial costs but environmental costs as well. Financial costs in a sense that first it got shortened in supply due to high demand and second wearing new mask each day because disposable face masks cannot be worn again and again.

Now this situation has led to increasing medical waste generation. There are tons of generated waste being left untreated across the world that is further causing environmental and health problems. In such a scenario, the rise of medical waste is also dangerous. Check out Medical waste in Pakistan and Its Management

Published research reported about the composition of disposable face masks for single use only. It includes materials such as are polyester, polyethylene, polyurethane, polycarbonate, polypropylene, polystyrene, etc. The composition is more or less similar for N95 face masks.

These face masks are the source of plastic fibers that are non-biodegradable and hence causing increasing environmental pollution. For instance, land pollution is increasing due to disposable face masks. Also, disposable face masks are responsible for marine pollution by causing suffocation to marine organisms because they get entangled in their neck, throat, and face.

Also read here: The Impacts of Microplastic Pollution on the Environment

ENVIRONMENTAL SOLUTION TO DISPOSABLE FACE MASKS

The environmentally friendly strategy is to reduce, reuse and recycle. By applying the 3Rs strategy for face mask generation the environmental and financial burden will be reduced. In the start, many disinfected strategies were implied to reuse the facemask.  Cloth face masks were also used and disinfecting agents such as hydrogen peroxide were used. However, the medical staff could not continue with reusable face masks experiments and hence a reliable solution is need of the time.

Now researchers are finding ways to prepare face masks that are durable effective against coronavirus spread and most important, the new face masks would be financial and environmentally friendly.

MIT is designing silicone rubber face masks that are reusable and it will save environmental and financial costs.

CONCLUSION

We are learning and modifying our ways to live with coronavirus. COVID-19 is showing its new variant with each new layer. That means sooner or later we will need durable face masks that could be reused. This is necessary because there are no specific landfill sites for waste disposal. Marine pollution due to microplastic is already killing marine life.

Also, check out COVID-19 Crisis Impacting Environmental Sustainability

I hope you all liked this post! Please comment below if you have any suggestions, comments, or feedback! We at #envpk love hearing from our readers! Thanks!

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