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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

More masks, more problems: Covid waste pollutes oceans

Caitlin Ashworth

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PHOTO: Opération Mer Propre Facebook

Disposable face masks and plastic gloves are ending up in the oceans around the world, some calling it “Covid waste.” Conservationists and non-profits in Europe and Asia worry that the items used to protect those on land from the coronavirus are now threatening life underwater.

In France, Laurent Lombard, from the non-profit Opération Mer Propre, posted a video on Facebook on a dive he did collecting trash, mostly picking up face masks and plastic gloves. He warned people that the number of masks in the Mediterranean could be potentially be more than the number of jellyfish.

OceansAsia in Hong Kong also reports a surge of face masks washing up onto shore. They say masks even showed up on the beaches on Hong Kong’s uninhabited islands with one 100 metre beach… “in the middle of nowhere” had 70 masks wash up on shore, and another 30 masks the following week.

Co-founder of OceansAsia, Gary Stokes say that since society started wearing masks, the cause and effects of it are now being seen on the beaches.

“What I’ll be waiting to see is when we’ll get a dead porpoise or dolphin washed out with masks inside their stomach.”

Back in March, the Thai government urged citizens to use fabric masks to lower the amount of waste. Bangkok also placed red hazardous waste bins throughout the city with hopes that people would properly dispose of their used face masks or used tissues, placing them in a plastic bag tied with a rubber band before being thrown in the bin.

The general surge of plastic waste due to the lockdown has Thailand’s former national windsurfer and environmentalist Amara Witchithong concerned. She’s been picking up trash in Thailand’s local water ways for years and has seen an increase.

“Plastic waste from the lockdown in Thailand has gone up by 15%”.

“I worry that after the Covid-19, I would imagine that the sea will be filled with trash.”

SOURCES: The Guardian | Bangkok Post|Nation Thailand Reuters

Ça vous dit cet été de vous baigner avec le COVID 19…?Sachant que plus de 2 milliards de masques jetables ont été…

Posted by Laurent Lombard on Saturday, May 23, 2020

 

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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