A study out of the University of Portsmouth in the UK has found that instances of littering with face masks and other PPE surged by 9000 percent during the first seven months of the coronavirus pandemic, and may have even helped the virus to spread more rapidly.
In a new study Dr Keiron Roberts unmasks the environmental impacts of COVID-19. Plastic face mask litter increased by nearly 9,000% from March to October 2020 – Governments need to put in place policies for the disposal of littered face masks pic.twitter.com/qXH4ialNvA
— University of Portsmouth (@portsmouthuni) December 9, 2021
BBC News reports that the study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, concluded around two million masks were collected as litter from 11 countries. This was just a snapshot of the situation in the wider world.
The study found that Covid-related litter began its “exponential increase” in March 2020, as the global pandemic was announced, and in conjunction with governments worldwide introducing restrictions including mandatory face mask-wearing.