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The Alarming Facemasks Wastes Ending Up In Oceans

discarded face masks bad effect in wildlife ocean river


Following the recent discovery of single-use face masks entangled in the coral reefs of Anilao, Batangas, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the increasing amount of improperly discarded household healthcare wastes during the pandemic has become a serious cause for concern.




Mismanaged wastes can end up in coastal areas where wildlife lives. These can threaten wildlife as much as they threaten human health and the environment. Even in this time of pandemic, let us not stop caring of our environment. Don’t let our discarded used personal protective equipment such as face masks be the reason why another life is put into danger. Wildlife matters too! Dispose of your wastes properly.


Cimatu said “the recent discovery of disposable face masks, plastic face shields, and other household healthcare wastes in our reefs is alarming. These wastes will harm both marine life and divers."


He stressed that while it is vital to follow minimum public health protocols to curb the spread of coronavirus, it is as important to be aware of each person's responsibilities to the environment.


whale shark eating face mask and medical waste
Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) are endangered species that play an important role in maintaining balance in the ecosystem. They serve as indicators for ocean health. However, solid waste pollution can greatly affect their quality of life. Protect and help them do their job for the environment by properly managing our wastes. Don’t let our discarded used personal protective equipment such as face masks be the reason why another life is put into danger. Wildlife matters too! Dispose of your wastes properly.


As remedial measures, Environment Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units (LGUs) Concerns Benny D. Antiporda said, “We have coordinated with the Philippine Coast Guard to ensure that all international and inter-island vessels, and even fishing vessels, have placed yellow bins for the proper disposal and storage of generated COVID-19 related healthcare waste such as, used face masks, gloves, cottons, tissue papers, and testing kits”.


In this way, Antiporda added that solid waste ending up in our waterways especially the oceans will be avoided.


wild boar in river drinking with face masks and medical wastes
Mismanaged wastes can end up in rivers, oceans, streams, and even in swamps. These can threaten wildlife as much as they threaten human health and the environment. Even in this time of pandemic, let us not stop caring of our environment. Don’t let our discarded used personal protective equipment such as face masks be the reason why another life is put into danger. Wildlife matters too! Dispose of your wastes properly.


The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is also working closely with the Department of the Interior and Local Government that has a directive to LGUs on handling household healthcare wastes, cleaning of esteros, and reminding those living near waterways to not throw wastes directly in the bodies of water.


Antiporda expressed that the DENR, together with its partner-agencies, will further discuss effective solutions to address the "global problem" of household healthcare wastes ending up in oceans and other water bodies.


He acknowledged that handling of used face masks and gloves from households is more difficult than those collected from hospitals and quarantine facilities.


"These (quarantine and medical) facilities are required to put up a treatment facility and get a hauling permit, so monitoring medical wastes comes easy with these sectors," he said.


However, he emphasized that strict compliance with waste segregation at source is still the best way to manage solid waste.


birds become entangled with trash like discarded used face mask
If birds become entangled with trash like discarded used face mask, they cannot free themselves without any help. When that happens, they are prevented from doing their usual activities like flying, walking, feeding and avoiding predators. This can result to permanent physical damage to skin, feathers, muscles, nerves or bones. With this, we strongly urge everyone to manage your wastes properly. Don’t let your trash be the reason why another life is put into danger. Wildlife matters too! Dispose of your wastes properly.


"Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, we already expected that more household healthcare wastes will be generated. Hence, the DENR through the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), has issued reminders on the proper disposal of these wastes," said Antiporda who is also the alternate chair of the NSWMC.


giant clams affected by waste face mask underwater pollution
Giant clams help maintain and restore the health of the coral reefs ecosystem by increasing the abundance and species richness at the reefs. If exposed to pollution, they may be prevented from doing their usual tasks underwater. With this, we strongly urge everyone to manage your wastes properly. Don’t let your trash be the reason why another life is put into danger. Wildlife matters too! Dispose of your wastes properly.


He echoed Cimatu's reminder to the LGUs to prioritize the handling of pandemic-related wastes by imposing strict segregation of wastes in households, implementing effective collection system, and providing yellow bins for potentially infectious wastes or personal protective equipment.


The DENR has already distributed yellow bins to the city government of Manila in November 2020, and is set to distribute in other LGUs in the coming months.



CUT the strings before throwing out.

Reaching as many people as possible: please pass on


face masks strings birds tied up





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