About 1.6 billion disposable masks wound up in the ocean last year. This has resulted in a massive pile of floating plastic waste that threatens marine life.
Visual Capitalist researchers have found that about 3% of the 52 billion single-use masks that had been manufactured to prevent Covid-19 infection eventually found their way into the seas.
The disposable masks were the reason behind about 5500 metric tonnes of plastic wastes in oceans. It will take more than 450 years to biodegrade this, the group has said.
These masks are mostly manufactured using polypropylene that breaks up into microplastics. These are then consumed by birds and aquatic animals. The harmful materials block their digestive systems.
In China, more than 450 million N95 and surgical masks had been manufactured daily when the coronavirus pandemic peaked in April 2020.
The ongoing catastrophe prompted an ecologist to say that soon the number of masks in the oceans will overtake the number of jellyfish.
With the Delta variant surging across 50 American states, there is no hope that the need for masks will be gone anytime soon.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines on mask-wearing, recommending vaccinated individuals living in areas experiencing high rates of infection wear masks indoors.
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