Masks are one of the most efficient means to protect ourselves from the spread of COVID-19. As many countries mandate the wearing of masks in public, the demand and production of single-use surgical masks have rocketed. In June 2020, the World Health Organization estimated that 129 billion face masks would be needed on a monthly basis to protect people worldwide.
At a time when face masks have become a standard accessory for everyone, it is crucial to understand how it threatens our environment and how to deal with them properly. When single-use masks not are disposed of properly, they pose a serious threat to our ecosystem.
In Malaysia, abandoned masks are found scattered around areas wild macaques inhabit. The macaques have been spotted chewing these masks – a potential choking hazard for the diminutive monkeys.
In Britain, a gull was rescued after its legs became tangled in the straps of a disposable mask for up to a week.