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Face masks and plastic pollution

  • by JW

Every minute of the day we throw away 3 million face masks.


In the early days, these pages looked at how to get hold of locally-made face-masks – which were really very helpful projects back then:

Help at hand: the WI – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Help at hand: the Sidmouth PPE supply project – Vision Group for Sidmouth

These pages have also looked at the issues around face-masks:

Strategies to open up Sidmouth: protecting shoppers and workers – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Strategies to open up: wearing face masks in public – Vision Group for Sidmouth

The culture of social distancing and wearing face masks – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Including plastic pollution:

A mask for life – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Coronavirus and plastic pollution – Vision Group for Sidmouth


Here is the latest research from the University of Southern Denmark:


Face masks are a ticking plastic bomb

Every minute of the day we throw away 3 million face masks. Many end up as potentially toxic micro- and nanoplastic or carriers for other toxicants in the environment, researchers warn.

By Birgitte Svennevig,, 3/10/2021

Recent studies estimate that we use an astounding 129 billion face masks globally every month – that is 3 million a minute. Most of them are disposable face masks made from plastic microfibers.

– With increasing reports on inappropriate disposal of masks, it is urgent to recognize this potential environmental threat and prevent it from becoming the next plastic problem, researchers warn in a comment in the scientific journal Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering.

The researchers are Environmental Toxicologist Elvis Genbo Xu from University of Southern Denmark and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Zhiyong Jason Ren from Princeton University.

Face masks are a ticking plastic bomb

Face masks and the environment: Preventing the next plastic problem — ScienceDaily


The wider media is picking this up:

Plastic pollution from face masks could harm the environment – Big Think

Face Masks Are Leaving an Environmental and Archeological Mark | Technology Networks

Covid-19 plastic pollution presents a growing risk – Environment Journal


photo: Mask And Risk Danger – Free photo on Pixabay