Medical waste of COVID-19 and its impact on marine pollution

in #sciencelast year

A new study has found that more than 8 million tons of plastics needed to be produced in the form of medical waste to combat the Covid-19 epidemic, of which more than 2,000 tons of plastic and waste have been produced over the past several months, has already entered the sea.

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To calculate the amount of plastic in the ocean associated with the epidemic, scientists mapped out the routes that eventually lead to the ocean, and reported that plastic waste passed through these routes after being used in major medical centers around the world, will go to local reservoirs. Researchers have concluded that 369 major rivers around the world carry plastics from medical centers to the sea.

The study found that, from the onset of the epidemic until August 2021, about half of the plastic waste (46%) came from Asia, where wearing masks is more common, while the rest came from Europe and North and South America. Researchers believe that if the current situation continues, by 2100, almost all plastic waste associated with the epidemic will reach coastal areas or the oceans.

A scientific study conducted by Greenpeace Research Laboratories at Cardiff University and University of Exeter in the United Kingdom has revealed that waterfowl catch insects from the water and feed their babies in their nests. The research found a large number of fine plastic particles in the stomachs of these birds. Waterfowl rely on aquatic insects for their food. But now the food of these insects has also included the plastic that is thrown away with the garbage and it reaches the rivers and then the oceans flowing in the streams.

During this process, the plastic constantly breaks down and turns into small pieces and particles. For many years, fish have been found in the oceans with large pieces of plastic in their stomachs.

Plastic waste dumped by human negligence is not only directly feeding fish and aquatic life, but also endangering their species, as well as waterfowl and their young. Research has shown that microfibers flow into streams, rivers and oceans and become food for insects, among other things, that are preyed upon by waterfowl.

Millions of dollars are being spent to clean the oceans and beaches with plastic. All these efforts, however, will continue to be fruitless as long as we continue our current practice of making plastics a part of pollution. It is also important to remember that this problem cannot be solved by simply improving the recycling system, we cannot tackle the problem of plastic pollution through recycling and beach cleaning.

We have to get to the root of the problem. If we want to continue to use the benefits of plastics without compromising the environmental and economic benefits, we need to tailor the 'plastic system' to our common interests, which the researchers agree on.

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There is some plastic that we definitely don't need. Such as once discarded straws, plastic pellets, bags, forks and spoons, cups and glasses, packaging materials and items that have a better and more environmentally friendly alternative. Plastics that are manufactured and used, should be designed in such a way that all plastics can be easily and safely recycled or have the ability to dissolve in the ground.

Thank you for reading! Stay Safe!👋😌

References:

1- https://www.pnas.org/content/118/47/e2111530118

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I suspect that discarded masks create a problem for urban infrastructure as well. Disposable masks are essentially strings attached to a small net. I suspect that these things are clogging up sewers and drainage systems.

Masks and other waste should be treated like a bio-hazard ... which means that disposing of the stupid things is more difficult than regular trash. I suspect that few people actually care about that.

PS: I have one reusable cloth mask. Of course there is plastic involved in those test kits. I was jabbed with a single use container that had a pointy metal thing on one end.