The result of the Corona epidemic (Covid-19) is the increase in the production of single-use facial masks, gloves, and other personal protective tools mostly prepared from plastics that are difficult to recycle or dispose of safely without any environmental damage.
Compilation of 256 images of PPE litter from Vista, CA, USA. Photograph by Janis Selby Jones.
QuoteCitation: Animal Biology 71, 2 (2021) ; 10.1163/15707563-bja10052
The masks and gloves are mostly made from polypropylene fabrics, as well as elastic filaments that can be a significant risk to wild animals by twisted with their limbs or can be a trap that prevents animals from moving or the risk of eating it by animals,
3 million masks are used every minute
According to a report published February 28 from "Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering", 3 million masks are used every minute during the Covid-19 pandemic, mostly the one-time type.
The website "oceansasia.org" which is interested the plastic pollution in the aquatic environment, published a report indicating that nearly 1.5 billion masks drifted into the ocean in 2020.
These statistics have made environmentalists aware of this risk and have found that this pollution disaster is not only limited to land but also extends to the marine environment.
and these are some of the environmental effects recorded for of Covid-19 garbage
Animal Biology published a new study on March 22. where scientists from Netherlands universities document the deadly effects of Covid-19 garbage on animals in their natural environment.
The team of scientists searched in the Internet and social media and collected reported observations on animal interaction and the remnants of personal protective tools since the beginning of the Corona pandemic.
The team found a chick stuck in one of the gloves, which led to his death, and also found birds using Covid-19 garbage in their nests, and other dead bird as a result of stuck with threads of the mask, and a seagull trying to live with a mask thread around his leg, and other birds unable to remove the mask from their claws or beaks.
They also found bats, hedgehogs, and crabs all stuck with masks and gloves, some trying to adapt to a new situation that they could not get rid of alone, while the other part was dead.
Sometimes animals accidentally eat plastic, such as the Spheniscus magellanicus, which was found dead on a Beach in Brazil while swallowing a mask later found in his stomach.
The researchers believe that these unintended mistakes that we notice in animals can also be made by humans, noting in their study that a 6-year-old child swallowed parts of a blue face mask that had been accidentally baked into a McDonald's chicken piece.
Collecting of COVID-19 garbage observations
In order to continue collecting data and raising awareness of the issue of covid-19 pollution, researchers have created a website (covidlitter.com) that enables people to share their own observations about this horrific phenomenon, in the hope of finding effective ways to address it, especially since the Covid-19 garbage scattered by land and sea will decompose into micro-plastics and will remain in the environment for hundreds of years.
|Date of observation||Date of online report||Country||Species name||PPE item||Observation|
|1||10-04-2020||23-04-2020||Canada||American robin (Turdus migratorius)||Face mask||Entangled|
|2||Unknown||14-04-2020||Poland||Sparrow sp. (Passer sp.)||Gloves||Nest material|
|3||Unknown||11-05-2020||U.S.A.||Cat (Felis catus)||Glove||Ingested|
|4||03-06-2020||This paper||The Netherlands||Common coot (Fulica atra)||Face mask||Nest material|
|5||18-06-2020||This overview||Germany||White tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)||Face mask||Entangled|
|6||Unknown||01-07-2020||France||Common octopus (Octopus vulgaris)||Face mask||Other: hiding|
|7||19-07-2020||19-07-2020||U.K.||Gull sp. (Laridae sp.)||Face mask||Entangled|
|8||19-07-2020||24-07-2020||U.K.||Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus||Face mask||Entangled|
|9||Unknown||22-07-2020||U.K.||Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)||Face mask||Entangled|
|10||Unknown||22-07-2020||U.K.||European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus||Glove||Entangled|
|11||31-07-2020||31-07-2020||U.S.A.||Checkered pufferfish (Sphoeroides testudineus)||Face mask||Entangled|
|12||02-08-2020||This paper||The Netherlands||Perch (Perca fluviatilis)||Glove||Entangled|
|13||24-07-2020||05-08-2020||U.S.A.||Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)||Face mask||Ingested|
|14||Unknown||07-08-2020||U.K.||Gull sp. (Laridae sp.)||Face mask||Carrying|
|15||11-08-2020||11-08-2020||U.K.||Gull sp. (Laridae sp.)||Face mask||Carrying|
|16||11-08-2020||11-08-2020||U.K.||Gull sp. (Laridae sp.)||Face mask||Carrying|
|17||31-08-2020||01-09-2020||U.K.||Gull sp. (Laridae sp.)||Face mask||Carrying|
|18||Unknown||05-09-2020||U.K.||Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)||Face mask||Ingested|
|19||06-09-2020||This paper||The Netherlands||Common coot (Fulica atra)||Face mask and glove||Nest material|
|20||Unknown||14-09-2020||Italy||Mute swan (Cygnus olor)||Face mask||Other: playing|
|21||Unknown||20-09-2020||Italy||Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)||Face mask||Entangled|
|22||Unknown||23-09-2020||Unknown, possibly North-America||Eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus)||Face mask||Other: unknown|
|23||23-09-2020||23-09-2020||France||Shore crab (Carcinus maenas)||Face mask||Entangled|
|24||23-09-2020||23-09-2020||France||Shore crab (Carcinus maenas)||Face mask||Entangled|
|25||Unknown||29-08-2020||Unknown||Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)||Face mask||Other: playing|
|26||11-09-2020||15-09-2020||Brazil||Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus)||Face mask||Ingested|
|27||30-09-2020||This overview||U.K.||Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)||Face mask||Ingested|
|28||Unknown||09-10-2020||Unknown||Canada goose (Branta canadensis)||Face mask||Entangled|
|29||Unknown||10-10-2020||The Netherlands||Serotine bat (Eptesicus serotinus)||Two face masks||Entangled|
|30||20-10-2020||23-10-2020||The Netherlands||European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus)||Face mask||Entangled|
|31||30-10-2020||30-10-2020||Malaysia||Long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis)||Face mask||Other: chewing|
|32||Unknown||24-11-2020||U.K.||Dog (Canis lupus familiaris||Face mask||Ingested|
|33||2020||2021||U.K.||Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)||Face mask||Entangled|
|34||01-01-2021||04-01-2021||The Netherlands||Gull sp. (Laridae sp.)||Face mask||Entangled|
|35||01-01-2021||07-01-2021||The Netherlands||Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)||Face mask||Ingested|
|36||23-02-2021||23-02-2021||Canada||Herring gull (Larus argentatus)||Face mask||Entangled|
|37||Unknown||09-03-2021||Philippines||Coral sp.||Face mask||Entangled|
|38||04-03-2021||This overview||Italy||Yellow-legged gull (Larus michahellis)||Face mask||Ingested|
|39||06-03-2021||07-03-2021||The Netherlands||Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)||Face mask||Entangled|
|40||22-03-2021||This overview||The Netherlands||Crow (Corvus corone)||Face mask||Ingesting|
|41||27-03-2021||This overview||U.S.A.||Red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)||Face mask||Entangled|
|42||Unknown||2020||U.K.||Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)||Face mask||Entangled|
|43||02-04-2021||03-04-2021||Belgium||Oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris||Face mask||Other: carrying|
|44||03-04-2021||This overview||The Netherlands||Western jackdaw (Coloeus monedula)||Face mask||Other: carrying|
|45||04-04-2021||This overview||The Netherlands||Common coot (Fulica atra)||Face mask||Nest material|
Finally, researchers believe that individual awareness of this disaster must be raised, as it can be somewhat controlled on a personal level by cutting masks tapes and cutting gloves at least before getting rid of it.
The effects of COVID-19 litter on animal life(Animal Biology)
COVID-19 Facemasks & Marine Plastic Pollution (oceansasia.org)
Report "Preventing masks from becoming the next plastic problem"(Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering)
The effects of COVID-19 litter on animal life (covidlitter.com)