Environmental Experts have expressed concern over the manner Covid-19 Personal Protective Equipment, (PPE) are indescrimately dispose without recognising the health implications to the generality of the public and environmental pollution.
A recent survey by a Non-Governmental Organization, African Climate Reporters, has revealed that a large number of used facemasks, hand gloves and plastic bottles of hand sanitizers littered the streets of many states.
The experts cautioned that such wastes especially hand sanitizers plastic bottles if not properly dispossd, will in the short term cause pollution to the environment, as these would increase the burden of waste in the society.
A science Climatologist, Dr. Piman Hoffman, in a statement made available to newsmen , harps on the need for the Federal, State Governments and stakeholders to raise more campaign on ways to deal with COVID-19 wastes that is threatening the environment.
He said the wastes emanated from COVID-19 PPE on the streets is increasing on daily, hence all hands must be on deck to start educating, enlightened and sensitize the general public
According to him, coronavirus wastes have become a new form of environmental pollution as a single use Personal Protective Equipment floods our gutters and streams.
The Assistant Director of African Climate Reporters also said that the citizens need to turn a new leaf and discontue the attitude to avert the spread of wastes in the environment.
He added that the World Health Organization, (WHO) estimated 89 million medical masks will be required every month amidst the coronavirus outbreak.
The fear, according to him, is that despite a temporary crash in carbon emissions as a result of lockdown which meant fewer people travellings and less industrial activities, there are concerns the pandemic will divert government’s attention away from Green horn issues and the fight against desertification and climate change.
In the same vain, the National President of Metro Environmental and Awareness Iniciative , Comrade Jibril Suleiman, harped on sensitization of the public on the dangers and implications of improper disposal of used coronavirus PPE on the environment.
He said the fact is hundreds of used gloves and facemasks are daily disposed indiscriminately; and most of them usually dumped into gutters and others in trash cites. This is another big pollution problems that could disturbed the environment in future,” he cautioned.
In his view, “now is the time for government to act to ensure a green recovery that incentivizes sustainability, pointing out that most facemasks contains or are made of polypropylene, which does not break down quickly.
“COVID-19 has had a number of unexpected impacts on the environment, curtailing recycling and increased the use of plastic around the world.
“Marine plastic pollution is a serious problem. It is estimated that every year, over eight million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans. This plastic does not disappear, rather slowly breaks down into micro-plastic, which enters food chains with devastating effect,” he said.
“Another concern is that face masks might become a new medium for spread of the novel coronavirus in Nigeria in view of high risks of self and environmental contamination when masks are used and disposed inappropriately.
Similarly, a Medical expert has advocated scientific way for disposing used masks and gloves in order to save the environment from the health implication of dumping discarded corona-virus mask waste in open places or the street.
A micro-Biologist, Samson John says there is need to raise more awareness to the public on health implication of throwing away discarded mask on the street by people moving on bikes, commercial vehicles and other places of public gathering.
“It’s really unfortunate that despite being informed through various media outlets about health hazards of dumping waste in open places , especially in the current scenario of rapid spread of coronavirus pandemic, discarded masks were seen dumped on streets, road while some where seen on the stream and Gutter.
“‘We must change our character of dumping trash on roads before it will cause us another disaster”
“we must know that Discarded masks are biggest potential carriers of coronavirus hence the need to educate the public on dangers associated with throwing away Covid 19 face mask any were on the road,public places ETC
the expert suggested that there should be a way of sensitizing the public on ways to hand over discarded masks and gloves to garbage collector in a mature way,
Also, the National President of “National Volunteer Group on Covid 19 “comrade Yusuf idris Amoke, highlighted the importance of educating the general public as one of the ways to reduce the number of discarded Covid 19 mask on the streets.
While stressing that Masks and gloves should be disposed of in a scientific manner to protect the environment
The used masks and gloves should be cut-into pieces before disposal in order to avert children’s picking it on the street.
He called on the public to avoid throwing away used masks and gloves on roads ,also urging the public not to be mixing discarded mask & gloves with dry and wet waste
He is drawing the attention of authorities to impose heavy penalties on all those who are found throwing the masks or any bio-waste (gloves, PPEs) in open places or public gathering ,
“We are afraid that the Covid -19 pandemic could further threatens to exacerbate the scourge of plastic pollution across the world”
It should be noted that ,every year, approximately 300 million tons of plastic is produced world wide ,with more than 8 million entering oceans annually, which is affecting the entire ecosystems of oceanic animals
In another development, the Director of African climate reporter, Comrade Nurudden Bello who is also a specialist on micro-organism also spoke on proper ways of disposing discarded Covid 19 face mask in order to halt the spread of the pandemic
During a chat with kaduna journalists Bello said that there is a proper way of disposing already used face mask, gloves to prevent infection among garbage collectors and the environment.
According to him, there are some vital things to consider before disposing the collected waste which include placing waste bin for collecting before taking it to dump centre, while emphasizing on knowing the mode of transportation of the disease.