A recent study shows 3 million face masks are tossed out every minute across the globe. The new data has led to local environmentalists to sound the alarm once again on the dangers of littering personal protective equipment.
Local non-profit, Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful said their message is simple: Watch out where you toss your used gloves, wipes and especially facemasks.
“No one wants to spread the disease, so we must be careful to properly dispose of these materials,” said Lourdes Ferris, Executive Director of Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful, Inc. “We have been hearing from more and more people who are seeing wipes, gloves, and other related items on streets and walking trails, or being left behind near supermarkets and pharmacies.”
Ferris said the items that are meant to protect from spreading COVID-19 are posing a threat to the environment. If they aren't disposed properly, they can easily end up in sewer systems and bodies of water and eventually into our bodies through the food chain.
"When the marine animals ingest the micro plastics or the pieces of plastic, they just don’t get the plastic they get the chemical too that are used to make these items," Ferris explained
To help combat the problem she recommends wearing re-usable facemasks which are less likely to be littered.
"Those reusable masks are heavier, so they tend not to fly away in wind or get carried by rain into storm drains for example if you happen to drop them."
The mission of Keep Palm Beach County Beautiful is to enhance the quality of life in Palm Beach County through programs and partnerships that encourage public agencies, private entities, residents and visitors to reduce litter and waste, increase recycling, beautify, maintain, and sustain public spaces, and inspire generations of environmental stewards.