More Than 1.5 Billion Masks Believed to Have Entered Oceans in 2020

War on Death undermines the previously popular War on Plastic

For months, we’ve seen face masks in places they shouldn’t be: storm drains, streets, beaches and parks.

Now, we’re learning just how many could be flooding our oceans.

“Once plastic enters the marine environment, it’s very difficult to move,” said Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, director of research for OceansAsia.

The marine conservation group has been tracking the number of face masks washing up on a remote island south of Hong Kong since the pandemic started.

“About six weeks after COVID hit Hong Kong, so late February, we began finding masks, and lots of masks,” said Bondaroff. “What’s remarkable is we weren’t finding face masks before COVID.”

Masks are made with polypropylene, which Bondaroff describes as thin fibers of plastic.

“The fact that we are starting to find masks that are breaking up indicates that this is a real problem, that microplastics are being produced by masks,” he said.

These tiny pieces of plastic can remain in the ocean for hundreds of years, threatening fish and even polluting the air.

“The question that we couldn’t answer was how many are entering our oceans? We just didn’t know,” Dr. Bondaroff said.

OceansAsia launched a study to find the answer and recently shared its findings.

Of the estimated 52 billion masks manufactured globally in 2020, it’s believed 1.56 billion will enter our oceans this year, resulting in an additional 4,680 to 6,240 metric tonnes of marine plastic pollution

Bondaroff said the report used a conservative loss rate of 3%, and the average weight of 3 to 4 grams for a single-use polypropylene surgical face mask, to arrive at the estimate.

“The 1.56 billion face masks that have entered our oceans in 2020 are there for the long run. They will remain in the ocean for 450 years or more, and they’ll break into smaller pieces.”

The report notes global sales of face masks surged from around $800 million in 2019 to $166 billion in 2020.

“That’s important, we need to keep people safe, but at the same time that has a lasting impact on our environment, and we’re seeing that on the beaches,” said Bondaroff.

He said, unfortunately, this problem makes up only a small fraction of the plastic pollution invading our oceans.

The report asks people to wear reusable masks whenever possible, dispose of masks responsibly and reduce their overall consumption of single-use plastic. It also calls on governments to:

  • Implement policies designed to encourage the use of reusable masks, such as releasing guidelines regarding the proper manufacture and use of reusable masks.
  • Foster innovation and the development of sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic masks.
  • Discourage littering by increasing fines, and educate the public about responsible ways to dispose of masks.
  • Repair and improve waste management systems to reduce losses and spillage.

Source: Denver ABC

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cechas vodobenikov
cechas vodobenikov
3 months ago

a wonderful gesture designed to provide masks to ocean dwelling creatures; hopefully this will flatten the covid curve in the oceans and prevent sharks from attacking their smaller brothers; I suspect this will finally convince them to become vegans

ke4ram
ke4ram
3 months ago

And surely they’ll line up for the vaccine!

sabateur
sabateur
3 months ago

:)))

ke4ram
ke4ram
3 months ago

“What’s remarkable is we weren’t finding face masks before COVID.”

Not remarkable at all. Many Asians, especially Chinese, are wearing masks due to air pollution. Same goes for today. The Chinese being smarter than the Average Joe American knows there wasn’t a virus but rather it was air and water pollution killing them.

chosen4/14/2014redmoon
chosen4/14/2014redmoon
3 months ago
Reply to  ke4ram

What you are saying means that the Chinese are not that smart, and you are not that smart either for not recognising it, because paper and cloth masks are not going to stop air pollution.

You need the rubber type with valves and special filters, hydrocarbon ones are indicated.

All those Chinese that came over with those masks looked stupid. The same as with all fellow Americans doing the same thing.

Undecider
Undecider
3 months ago

You ever been to these cities drowning in air pollution. People will scramble to wear something, anything, to limit the particulate. Do they work? Who knows. It’s all about “feeling better,” these days.

chosen4/14/2014redmoon
chosen4/14/2014redmoon
3 months ago
Reply to  Undecider

I agree with that. People don’t realize that immunity is in the air they breathe, and the food and water that they ingest.

I used to wear a gas mask when I had to drive a school bus to make a few bucks. I was getting sick every two weeks, constantly. Then the assholes fired me with stupid excuses. A California Highway patrolman even told me that one’s lungs get used to the pollution.

Then I wrote the president at the time. He sent me a letter from his civil rights lawyer in the department of education. The department got on my bosses asses. They gave me an emergency call to come back to work. I was driving with the gas mask for the rest of the school year.

chosen4/14/2014redmoon
chosen4/14/2014redmoon
3 months ago
Reply to  ke4ram

What you are saying means that the Chinese are not that smart, and you are not that smart either for not recognising it, because paper and cloth masks are not going to stop air pollution.

You need the rubber type with valves and special filters, hydrocarbon ones are indicated.

All those Chinese that came over with those masks looked stupid. The same as with all fellow Americans doing the same thing.

James Willy
James Willy
3 months ago

At least these masks have some useful purpose. Now everyone needs to flush a few million of them down your toilets and destroy your sewer plants as well. Plug em up so they no longer function, just like the oceans.

Raptar Driver
Raptar Driver
3 months ago

Soon it will say on Tuna cans……
Dolphin and mask safe.
Have a happy safe day!

Sharon Gibbster-Monster
Sharon Gibbster-Monster
2 months ago

So where are the BIO-HAZARD waste cans that ALL BIO-HAZARD HAS to go in if it really is a “pandemic”?

Anti-Empire