The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the increase use of PPE, which is needed to save lives. Unfortunately, it is also having a negative impact on our environment and wildlife.
Researchers have said that animals are fatally ingesting or becoming entangled in discarded latex gloves and single us surgical face masks, while others have started using these materials to build there homes. Auke-Florian Hiemstra, a biologist at the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden said: “I think it’s ironic that the materials that protect us are so harmful to the animals around us”.
It is not all doom and gloom, a group of researchers in New Zealand have found that single use Disposable Surgical Masks can actually be washed and reworn.
Nelson-based infectious disease specialist physician and microbiologist Richard Everts started a study more than a year ago to see the effect on filtration rates of masks if washed in warm water.
“I was working in Vanuatu when I first heard about Covid-19 spreading through China and I was thinking ‘this is not going to be good here’. They had very few masks at that time for a population of over 300,000 and then when new supplies did arrive, I knew they weren’t going to be able to use them once and throw them out. So that got me started with the whole idea of how long masks can be used for,” Dr Everts said.
Interestingly enough, he found that even after the EU standard-compliant masks had been washed 10 times, the filtration efficiency was still better than a new non-compliant mask.
Dr Everts advises to massage the mask in warm water only (bleach and soaps affect the filtration rate), which removes mucus and saliva, and then hang it up overnight to dry which will disinfect the mask.
Click here to read the full article by Research Writer Kate Harvey on consumer.org.nz.
PPE is crucial in keeping us safe from the Covid-19 virus, but lets all do our bit to minimise the damaging effect it is having on our environment and wildlife.
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