By Sandun A Jayasekera
A minimum 06 million face masks are added to the environment daily and as such the next environmental crisis could start with discarded face masks, Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera said yesterday.
The situation would be critical if quick action is not taken to arrange for proper disposal of used face and surgical masks safely, Minister Anmaraeera told the media.
Therefore, it was extremely important to adhere to guidelines issued by the Central Environment Authority (CEA) in respect of disposing of face masks, Minister Amarawera said.
The guidelines instruct the local government authorities to deploy separate vehicles and personnel to dispose of clinical waste, especially in isolated areas. Also, masks and gloves used by COVID-19 infected people should be stored separately in a yellow bag. Waste packed in yellow bags should never be used for recycling and steps should be taken to dispose of them properly.
Face masks and gloves commonly used by the public to protect from COVID-19 should be thoroughly washed and dried before disposal and should be disposed of thereafter. Due to the carelessness in disposing of clinical contaminants, it is highly possible for the Covid-19 virus to re-enter the environment from irresponsibly disposed masks and gloves, the guidelines note. “Last week, nearly 100 water samples were tested in a river in Ecuador. All of those water samples were confirmed to be infected with the Covid 19 virus.
- Face masks and gloves used by the public to protect from COVID-19 should be thoroughly washed and dried before disposal