The COVID-19 pandemic face mask waste: A blooming threat to the marine environment

Selvakumar Dharmaraj, Veeramuthu Ashokkumar, Sneha Hariharan, Akila Manibharathi, Pau Loke Show, Cheng Tung Chong, Chawalit Ngamcharussrivichai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

197 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recently, the COVID-19 disease spread has emerged as a worldwide pandemic and cause severe threats to humanity. The World Health Organisation (WHO) releases guidelines to help the countries to reduce the spread of this virus to the public, like wearing masks, hand hygiene, social distancing, shutting down all types of public transports, etc. These conditions led to a worldwide economic fall drastically, and on the other hand, indirect environmental benefits like global air quality improvement and decreased water pollution are also pictured. Currently, use of face masks is part of a comprehensive package of the prevention and control measures that can limit the spread of COVID-19 since there is no clinically proven drugs or vaccine available for COVID-19. Mostly, face masks are made of petroleum-based non-renewable polymers that are non-biodegradable, hazardous to the environment and create health issues. This study demonstrates the extensive use of the face mask and how it affects human health and the marine ecosystem. It has become a great challenge for the government sectors to impose strict regulations for the proper disposal of the masks as medical waste by the public. Neglecting the seriousness of this issue may lead to the release of large tonnes of micro-plastics to the landfill as well as to the marine environment where mostly end-up and thereby affecting their fauna and flora population vastly. Besides, this study highlights the COVID-19 spread, its evolutionary importance, taxonomy, genomic structure, transmission to humans, prevention, and treatment.

Original languageBritish English
Article number129601
JournalChemosphere
Volume272
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Keywords

  • Coronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Face mask
  • Marine environment
  • Pollution

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