The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is encouraging citizens to properly dispose of single-use masks in order to prevent them from becoming pollutants.
“We want to be proactive and encourage citizens to be mindful of how they dispose of single-use masks amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We are aware that improper disposal of these masks has become an environmental issue globally and we want to prevent it from becoming a major issue locally,” Director of Environmental Management and Conservation at NEPA, Anthony McKenzie, told JIS News.
Environmentalists have advised that the correct way to dispose of used face masks is to place them in a covered garbage bin. They should not be thrown on the ground. The ear loops should be cut before disposal. Mr. McKenzie noted that the improper disposal of masks could result in them ending up in water bodies and along the coastline.
“This can (cause) a serious impact on marine life as sea creatures often mistake these foreign items as food. These items, in abundance, can also cause blocked drains and result in flooding,” he noted.
Blockage of drains leads to stagnation of water, which poses many health risks including increased mosquito (vector) breeding and waterborne diseases.
“There are a range of issues that can arise out of the wanton and indiscreet disposal of these items (masks). Some fauna can be strangled by these masks and poisoned once they ingest the material,” Mr. McKenzie added.
He noted that it is easy to accumulate several masks within a week as persons try to protect themselves from contracting COVID-19.
“However, we want to encourage persons to not misplace their masks but instead, consciously and collectively dispose of them after use. Also, as advised by the Government, persons can invest in reusable cloth face-masks to avoid using single-use masks,” he said.