More masks than jellyfish: like ‘coronavirus’ waste pollute the ocean

The excess discarded disposable masks and gloves littering the seabed and is washed by the waves on the beaches, says The Guardian.

Больше масок, чем медуз: как 'коронавирусные' отходы загрязняют океан

Photo: Shutterstock

Specialists in the conservation of nature warned that the coronavirus pandemic can cause a surge of ocean pollution in addition to excess plastic waste that is already threatening marine life. To such conclusion experts have come after the discovery of disposable masks, floating like jellyfish, and latex gloves filled with water and scattered along the seabed.

French non-profit organization’opération Mer Propre, in whose activities include regular collection of waste along the côte d’azur, began to sound the alarm at the end of may.

Divers found what Joffrey Peltier from the organization called “waste Covid” — dozens of gloves, masks and bottles of disinfectant for the hands in the waves of the Mediterranean sea, mixed in with the regular trash in the form of disposable cups and aluminum cans.

According to Peltier, found the number of masks and gloves was far from huge. But he is worried that this discovery hints at a new type of pollution which will become ubiquitous after millions of people around the world began to use disposable accessories for protection against coronavirus.

“This promises that the pollution will come if nothing is done,” said Peltier.

In France alone, authorities have ordered two billion disposable masks, said Laurent Lombard from’opération Mer Propre.

“There is a risk that soon the Mediterranean will be more masks than jellyfish” — he wrote in social networks along with videos about the dip, showing the tangled seaweed mask and gloves dirty in the sea near Antibes.

The group hopes that image will motivate people to use reusable masks, and instead of wearing latex gloves more often wash hands.

“With all the alternatives to plastic is not the solution for protection from Covid,” says Peltier.

In the years before the pandemic, environmentalists warned of the threat posed by plastic pollution to oceans and marine flora and fauna. According to UN environment programme in 2018, the oceans annually to 13 million tons of plastic. In the Mediterranean sea annually 570 000 tonnes of plastic — the amount that the world wildlife Fund called equal to the dumping at sea 33 800 plastic bottles every minute.

These figures could increase considerably as countries around the world are struggling with the pandemic coronavirus. Masks often contain plastic, such as polypropylene, says French politician Eric Pape.

“With a lifetime of 450 years, these masks are an environmental time bomb, given their long-term environmental implications for our planet”, — he wrote last month, the Emmanuel Macron, urging the French President to do more to address the environmental impacts of disposable waste.

In the beginning of this year by representatives in the Hong Kong organization OceansAsia began to Express similar concerns after the study of marine debris on an uninhabited Soko Islands were discovered dozens of disposable masks.

“On the beach with a length of about 100 meters, we found about 70 pieces, said Gary Stokes from OceansAsia. After a week on the beach made for another 30 masks. And it’s on a desert island no one knows where!”.

Wanting to know how far it has reached the mask, he began to check out other nearby beaches.

“We find them everywhere, he said. Since then, as society began to wear masks, cause and effect can be seen on the beaches.”

He suggested that a light mask is sometimes also transported by winds from land, boats and landfills.

“It’s just another object of marine litter, Stokes said, comparing the mask with plastic bags or straws, which are often washed away in more distant urban shores. Is not better, not worse, just another subject that we leave a legacy to the next generation”.

However, given the likelihood that porpoises and dolphins can make the mask for food, environmentalists are preparing for grim discoveries.

“Their bodies are constantly washed, and just waiting for the autopsy to find the mask inside, he said. — I think it’s inevitable.”

As previously wrote ForumDaily:

  • In new York dead whales washed ashore: scientists do not know the reasons of their death. According to the Atlantic society for the protection of the marine environment, on the body of the whale was discovered suspicious bruising. The researchers took samples and sent them to experts to find out whether they were associated with some injuries. Read more on the website ForumDaily New York.

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