In hopes of stopping the spread of coronavirus, face masks and gloves have now become either mandatory or recommended worldwide. There are other controversial recommendations, but it has been shown that there are few stocks in the world for people to use on a daily basis. Masks have been shown to work effectively, but unfortunately, these new additions to humans have contributed to creating more waste.
Hence, discarded coronavirus masks and gloves raise the risk of ocean life, according to nature conservationists.
Unfortunately, while the lack of mass-use masks is present everywhere in the world, there is no shortage of surgical masks on Ocean beaches, as evidenced by many studies conducted on waste and microplastics. Research conducted on the Soko Islands, southwest of Lantau at the mouth of the Biser River Delta, focused on examining the composition of debris, where a significant increase in surgical masks was observed.
— Indigenous (@AmericanIndian8) April 18, 2020
Only after such a massive social change began that everyone is wearing masks, it has not taken 6 weeks for the effects of the lack of hygiene mentality to show up on the beaches. This massive occurrence of surgical masks probably was not before the COVID-19 virus, according to many visitors.
But not only on the beaches, but cigarette butts, empty bottles, food wrappers, rubber gloves, and surgical masks are also all the same on many city streets. In the end, all of the debris that is on the street can be easily washed away by drains during a storm and end up in the ocean or other waterways.
What is of particular concern is that surgical masks and gloves can be particularly harmful to the environment because they are made of non-degradable fabrics and plastics, and which in various colors are attractive to marine animals.
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Sadly No Shortage of Surgical Masks On Hong Kong Beaches OceansAsia are currently 5 months into a year long study of #marinedebris and #microplastics. Our research site is located on the Soko Islands, a small group of islands located south west of Lantau at the mouth of the Pearl River delta and one of the focuses is investigating the make up of the debris, where it comes from etc. On this months survey trip the team noticed a new arrival to the beach, the surgical mask. Besides the obvious disgust in hygiene mentality the interesting part for us is seeing the timing. With such a massive social change (everyone wearing masks) it has taken 6 weeks to see the effects wash up on our beaches. Surgical masks would possibly have been there before the COVID-19 virus in very small numbers, but no way on the scale we witnessed. We have been on this beach twice a month for 5 months. In Hong Kong we have already seen our nature trails getting trashed by masks, however to now know that something introduced enmasse to a population, takes just 6 weeks to arrive on our beaches. This highlights we have a serious waste management system, both in Hong Kong & China. Photo: Naomi Brennan *Gloves were worn at all times and collected masks were disposed of correctly. #covid19 #virus #cdc
According to observations in Asia, where people have been using masks and gloves for several months now, these items have already made their way to nearby waterways and oceans. The OceanAsia Conservation Group website (oceansasia.org) posted photos taken on beaches in Hong Kong, where gloves and surgical masks were strewn across the sand and floated in the water.
The statement by OceanAsia co-founder Gary Stokes to The Independent said:
“The way I see these environmental masks is just another addition to the ongoing crisis of the marine debris that our oceans are facing. Not better, not worse, it just shouldn’t be there in the first place. I am waiting to hear the first necropsy that finds masks in a dead marine animal. It’s not a question of if, but when. “
Similar tendencies have been observed in many other countries around the world, and environmentalists in the United States are committed to addressing this problem. Maria Algarra, founder of the Miami-based environmental group Clean This Beach Up, started the hashtag called #TheGloveChallenge. With this campaign, she encourages people to take photos of discarded gloves and masks to illustrate how widespread the problem is and to share these photos on social networks.
She received almost 2000 photographs of discarded gloves and masks from around the world. In some letters, she was reported to have helped clean up discarded items. In accordance with the recommendations of health experts, Algarra advised her supporters to pick up things only if they had personal protective equipment.
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Hello everyone! We hope everyone is staying safe and healthy! 🙏🏼 March 23rd we decided to launch #TheGloveChallenge 🧤 not only to track littered gloves but also as a way of creating awareness and educating others! 🚯 #stoplittering @eco.codes • We have tracked a crazy amount of gloves from pictures sent by amazing people like YOU from all over the world! 🆘 (Remember if you’re going to pick them up protect yourself, use protective gloves, and a picker if possible.) • Join the challenge! If you see a glove snap a shot 📸 tag us on your stories or posts!! And help us spread the word! THIS IS NOT OKAY!! 👀 check out —-> #theglovechallenge • For many “they are just gloves” for our wildlife they look like food! #savetheturtles 🐢 use latex gloves only if you have to and dispose of them correctly 🙏🏼 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #cleanthisbeachup #cleanthisbeachupmiami #coronavid19 #covidtrash #covid19 #pandemic2020 #beachcleanup #cleanbeaches #latexgloves #stoplittering #plastickills #plasticpollution #breakfreefromplastic #planetorplastic #weareallinthistogether #quarantined #stayhomechallenge #dontpanic #saveouroceans #climatechange #dontbelazy #trashcan #plasticpollutes
This problem with scattered gloves is a matter of education and general upbringing. People and their attitudes cannot be expected to change overnight, even though they know that what they are doing is wrong.
DON’T BE TRASHY!!! STOP THROWING YOUR GLOVES ON THE FLOOR! 😡🚯#MondayMood #TheGloveChallenge #COVID #coronavirus #trashtag @MiamiBeachNews @MiamiBeachPD @FrancisSuarez @MayorDanGelber pic.twitter.com/4dPt0ssUlf
— Clean This Beach Up (@Cleanthisb_up) April 7, 2020
Plastics and microplastics are found everywhere and increase toxicity in the environment, so it is in what we eat and drink. While recycling certain types of items makes it possible to control and manage waste, it is very difficult or there is no way to clean the microplastics. When the garbage is already in the ocean and broken into smaller pieces, it is almost impossible to bring it back.