Covid-19 face masks: A potential source of microplastic fibers in the environment

Although the disposable face masks were primarily made for the protection of health-care workers (HCWs) to prevent occupational hazards, non-medical professionals adopted the use of face masks during the outbreak of SARS in 2003 and pdm H1N1 in 2009.

Moreso, authorities had recommended the same for the masses to stem the widespread of these viruses. In regards to the current pandemic, researchers have advocated for the use of face masks by the general public until the mode of transmission of Covid-19 is fully understood. It has also been argued that it can help in reducing the number of times a person touches the face/mouth/nose with unwashed hands, which can significantly reduce the chance of infection. Previous studies have also demonstrated the effectiveness of face masks in protecting against respiratory infection during Hajj.

The introduction of face masks as one of the precautionary measures to slow down the transmission rate of Covid-19 from person to person has resulted in a global shortage of face masks for the most venerable group, which are the HCWs. According to the WHO estimates, approximately 89 million medical masks were needed to respond to Covid-19 each month . This demand has resulted in an unprecedented rise in the global production of face masks which are produced using polymeric materials. Major players in face mask production have therefore scaled up their output. 

The increase in production and consumption of face mask across the world has given rise to a new environmental challenge, adding to the vast plastic and plastic particle waste in the environment. Some of these materials are getting into waterways from where they reach the freshwater and marine environment adding to the presence of plastics in the aquatic medium.

Oluniyi O. Fadare and Elvis D. Okoffo suggest that placing ban on face masks remains the least option at the moment, as they recommend considering its positive impacts in the ongoing global fight against the Covid-19. They advocate sensitization of the populace can greatly help in the management of these litters. Furthermore they suggest, strengthening critical thinking in research to provide eco-friendly alternatives while enhancing effective waste management system can assist in finding a sustainable solution to plastic pollution.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.




Trending Topics

planthro projects