Greenpeace calls for replacing disposable masks with reusable ones that “can be properly disinfected.”

Greenpeace warns of the use of 129,000 million masks and 65,000 million gloves per month in the world.

Greenpeace has warned that about 129,000 million disposable masks and 65,000 million gloves are being used in the world each month, according to a study in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology.

For this reason, the environmental NGO, with the joint support of health experts from around the world, has called for the replacement of disposable masks with reusable ones, which “Can be adequately disinfected”, which would protect the environment from contamination, as well as the population from the global Covid-19 pandemic.The study notes that the use of disposable masks and gloves “has not only caused widespread environmental contamination, but also presents a significant risk to public health, since this waste serves as a vector for the virus, which can remain latent and active for 3 days on the surface of this type of material ”.

In Spain, Greenpeace has highlighted that since the beginning of the pandemic, 659 million surgical masks that represent more than 1,300 tons of plastic materials deposited in landfills, burned in incinerators or thrown directly into the environment.For the director of the Program for Environmental Sustainability in Health at Yale University (United States), Jodi Sherman, the general public “should use reusable masks and carry out their routine washing and disinfection in their homes ”. “It is unnecessary for personal safety and detrimental to planetary health to use disposable gloves to go shopping,” he assured.

As countries continue to face a “shortage” of personal protective equipment (PPE), experts ask citizens to carry out basic hygiene practices, such as washing their hands, and using reusable masks, while leaving them behind. Single-use, medical grade PPE for healthcare and healthcare workers.

Environmental costs

“Our health depends on the health of the natural resources of our planet. Single-use plastic materials are polluting our air, water and soil and, therefore, harming our health “, insisted one of the experts supporting this organization, Saulo Delfino Barboza, associate professor of the Health and Education Program of the Brazilian University of Ribeirao Preto.The United Nations also warns of the “danger” posed by improper management of infected medical waste, since these can be the object of discharges both to the environment and to urban environments, “which entails risks for public health.” They also warn of the risks of open burning or incineration with the release of toxins into the environment and the secondary transmission of diseases to humans. Other wastes can reach water sources and increase river and marine pollution.

Julio Barea, head of Greenpeace’s waste campaign, has summed up the situation by warning that human health cannot be protected without a healthy environment.

“The hundreds of billions of disposable plastic masks and gloves that we are using have a huge cost, particularly for people who live in the vicinity of landfills and incinerators, where they are dumped or burned, ”said Barea.Greenpeace recalled that a few weeks ago more than 130 health professionals from 20 countries signed a statement ensuring that the reusable bags and containers “They can be used safely during Covid-19.”