Waste protective gears risk environment pollution

ANM Mohibub Uz Zaman

27th June, 2020 10:11:50 printer

Waste protective gears risk environment pollution

Most users dump discarded coronavirus safety gear, including PPEs, hand gloves and face masks, on open spaces, polluting the environment. The photo was taken from a road in Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area of the capital on Saturday.

The rising use of coronavirus healthcare equipment like masks, gloves, head cap, bottles of sanitizer and other personal protective equipment (PPE) and their nonchalant disposal contribute to environment pollution in the country.

All kinds of people are using different types of health safety equipment to save them from the virus since its outbreak while the equipment mostly end up in open places like road, walkway, drain and other areas.

People working with waste management system are in direct risk of catching the infection and spreading it further due to lack of proper protective measures.

Dhaka University Chemistry Department professor Abdus Salam told daily sun around 80 percent people have been using Covid-19 healthcare equipment currently and are dispossessing them of in open places.

Most of the equipment are made up of plastic or other polymer type’s raw material that are not degradable in environment. The hand gloves are marketed as vinyl or polythene or latex gloves while the sanitisers are in single use plastic bottles.

Indiscriminate disposal of those create two types crisis – spreading germ and other diseases and also creating water and environment pollution, he said.

Still, people do not always dispose of the equipment properly that also bear negative consequences for water life, water pollution, plastic and environment pollution, said the professor.

Gloves made up of latex rubber or plastic, is not always an eco-friendly choice. Many other chemical additives are used to produce them, he said, some of which can harm the environment when they decompose.

The discarded gloves, wipes, head cap and bottles of sanitizer are strewn across drain, sidewalks and roads.

Country, 14,165 tonnes of single-use plastic waste were generated from the use of one-time surgical face masks, hand gloves and polythene bags in communities, hospitals and other healthcare facilities between March 26 and April 25, the first month of Covid-19 infection in the country, according to a recent study of Environment and Social Development Organization ( ESDO).

The study emphasised that an improper disposal of these hazardous Covid-19 plastic waste can cause massive environmental pollution.

Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) General Secretary Sharif Jamil said the uses of Covid-19 safety equipment have been increasing not only in the country but also across the world.

But the improper disposal of the equipment is mixing with the environment, particularly they are are going to drain, water body, canal, river and finally into the sea. 

“This one time equipment are not only polluting our environment but also polluting the water from wetlands, forests, urban green spaces, canals, river to Sea.”

The indiscriminate throwing of those will clog the drainage system of Dhaka and other big cities in the country and may create water logging during monsoon, according to the environmentalist.   

He said it is essential to properly use and dispose of the health equipment.

An estimated 455 million surgical masks have been used by the entire population during the last one month giving rise to an estimated 1592 tons of disposable plastic waste.

Alone in Dhaka 3,076 tons of single use plastic waste were generated. During the time, the growing tendency of using disposable hand gloves has become evident both in urban and rural areas of Bangladesh.

The study found over half of Bangladesh’s 160 million people are already wearing single use synthetic surgical face masks, 30 percent are using hand gloves, and another 30 percent use hand sanitizer.

In the period studied, people used 455 million surgical masks, 1,216 million polythene hand gloves, 189 million surgical hand gloves, 49 million hand sanitizers and 1,449 million polythene bags, according to the study.


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