According to an environmental group that monitors the level of pollution in the world’s oceans, around 1.5 billion masks are expected to be thrown into the sea in just one year.
A report from OceansAsia concluded that the large number of disposable masks would further contaminate the oceans with harmful plastic and damage vulnerable marine ecosystems.
“Single-use face masks are made from a variety of melted plastics and are difficult to recycle due to both their composition and the risk of contamination and infection,” the OceansAsia report points out.
“These masks enter our oceans when they are littered or poorly discarded, when waste management systems are inadequate or non-existent, or when these systems are overwhelmed due to increasing volumes of waste,” the report adds.
The report insists that evidence has already emerged of animals killed by the masks.
Marine conservation organization Instituto Argonauta reported that a penguin was found dead on a Brazilian beach in September with a mask tangled in its stomach.
“The consequences of the large number of people who frequented the beaches of the north coast of São Paulo during the extended holidays of September 7 may have claimed the life of a Magellanic penguin, whose cause of death is linked to a mask found inside his stomach, ”the group reported.
The masks will bring about 7,000 tonnes of plastic to the oceans, which are said to already contain 5.25 trillion macro and micro pieces of plastic, and 46,000 larger pieces per square mile of water.
Plastic in the oceans weighs up to 269,000 tonnes, and every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic are added.
The numbers reveal an extremely horrific global environmental disaster.
OceansAsia estimates that the masks will take 450 years to fully decompose.
“This plastic doesn’t ‘disappear’, but rather builds up, breaking into smaller and smaller pieces. Each year, it is estimated that marine plastic pollution kills 100,000 marine mammals and turtles, over a million seabirds and even more fish, invertebrates and other marine species, ”the report insists.
“Plastic pollution also has a profound impact on coastal communities, fisheries and economies. Conservative estimates suggest that this could cost the global economy $ 13 billion a year and lead to a 1-5% decline in ecosystem services, valued at between $ 500 billion and $ 2.5 trillion, ”the report concludes. .
The report suggests that if masks are to be worn, reusable and washable cloth masks should be used.
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