PPE May Save Human Lives, but It's Deadly for Wildlife
A Wildlife Article from All-Creatures.org

FROM Reynard Loki, Earth/Food/Life a project of the Independent Media Institute
April 2021

As if the scourge of plastic waste weren’t enough of an issue for the global ecosystem... now it's PPE...

PPE trash
Pandemic pollution: Compilation of 256 images of PPE litter from Vista, CA, USA. Photograph by Janis Selby Jones. (Animal Biology 2021; 10.1163/15707563-bja10052)

One of the most distinguishable features of the COVID-19 era is the public, everyday use of personal protective equipment (PPE), mainly in the form of disposable face masks and latex gloves. And while these thin layers protect us and others from transmitting and contracting SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes the lower respiratory tract disease, scientists are now beginning to understand just how harmful these objects can be for ecosystems and wildlife.

Grounded flights: One of the early victims of COVID-19 litter, an American robin (Turdus migratorius), was found entangled in a face mask in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada, in April 2020. Photograph by Sandra Denisuk. (Animal Biology 2021; 10.1163/15707563-bja10052)

The demand for PPE has put some countries on a war footing, to give governments sweeping wartime authorities to control the economy and compel private businesses to join national fights against the pandemic. “Our national plan launches a full-scale war-time effort to address the supply shortages by ramping up production and protective equipment, syringes, needles, you name it,” said President Joe Biden in January. Even the inventor of the lifesaving N95 mask favored by front-line medical workers, Dr. Peter Tsai, said that countries should stockpile PPE as if they were on a war footing. “Weapons are not profitable,” he said in August. “But they need to have the weapons and then they don’t use them for 10 or 20 years. You need to see this kind of PPE as military weapons.” A majority of U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have instituted “mask mandates” requiring people to wear face coverings in public to limit the spread of COVID-19....


Please read the ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE (PDF) 

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