Environmentalists believe that we may face a fresh huge surge of ocean contamination during the coronavirus epidemic. Our water threatens new and severe risks with the monthly usage of 194 billion PPE pieces.
Do we cause another immediately during a pandemic? Due to the million pieces of abandoned personal protection equipment(PPE) thrown in the environment, the epidemic looks to have another, more frightening consequence.
This spring we were very hopeful about the many reports of the nature reliving amid the worldwide lockdown. It appears that although the world is heading for no return, at least nature is finally granted a big breath.
Nature is not healing, unfortunately! The millions of pieces of personal protective gear (PPT) that have been discarded are shockingly polluting the world.
According to recently published studies in the Environment, Science & Technology Journal, over 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves are being used around the world every month, leading to “wide contamination of the environment” and a disastrous new wave of waste material in the oceans and the rivers.
Earlier this year watchdogs from the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) published a research advising that “up to 10 million masks per month would pollute the environment if only 1% of the masks were misappropriatingly disseminated in nature.”
Recently a marine scientist from the UK, Emily Stevenson, known as the “Beach Guardian,” has been gathering rubbish from a cornwall beach.
She recovered 171 unconscious PPE pieces after only one hour, which is startlingly more than the six pieces she had collected at the last clean-up beach.
In 2017, Emily and her father Rob established the initiative Beach Guardian, where 200 community cleanups involving 6,000 volunteers were arranged.
However, she has noticed that the garbage she collects has switched from plastic bags and straws to protective facial masks and gloves.
“Evident proof has already been established that PPE is sinking below the sea surface. This indicates that the concentration of EPP contamination in the seafloor, which may remain as latent waste for years, could not be accounted for completely.”
Once on a sea level, it smothers biological structures like major Sea Fan beds in the United Kingdom or coral reefs further away. This debris also has a ‘plasticizing’ impact on the seabed, which potentially inhibits the flow of gas between the sediment and the water column.
Stevenson estimates the addition of 57,000 metric tons of plastic to the whole of the UK using one throwaway face mask a year a day A further 66,000 tons of contaminated PPE waste would be impossible to recycle.
Conservation experts warned that plastic trash is having a destructive effect on the seas and the supply of water even before the epidemic.
They release carcinogenic poisons and chemicals into the sea environment, are affected by marine life and are killed by discarded plastic beverage containers.
The UN revealed the presence in the oceans of an estimated 100 million tons of plastic, mostly from terrestrial sources.
In the World Economic Forum 2016 study in Davos, Swiss, all fish would be overweight by 2050 if the plastic trash in the ocean were cautioned.
However, Stevenson believes that the epidemic will educate us all how to dispose of their protection equipment properly and how to solve the problem:
“Our togetherness was the saving grace of COVID-19. The virus was confronted by the entire globe. We can address this if we continue with the same worldwide cooperation. PPE is throughout our life; we use it every day or see it. But this is precisely why we can all do something about it.
It is those daily, individual, small steps that happen on a global scale that is going to be our greatest ally in this fight against plastic.”