Friday, June 11, 2021

Oh No, Masks, "An Enormous Problem"

No beach report today, it's been raining steadily all day, and we settled for a short neighborhood walk, so this will have to pass as a Chesapeake Bay post: WYPR: Disposable PPE Trashes Wildlife.

As the coronavirus pandemic begins to recede … millions of disposable masks and gloves that kept people safe are beginning to surface as trash ... and are proving unsafe for wildlife.

Two Dutch researchers -- biologists Liselotte Rambonnet and Auke-Florian Hiemstra -- tell us how wildlife and domestic animals are getting entangled in, and ingesting the refuse -- and it’s happening all over the globe.


“It’s really an enormous problem. And actually billions and billions of people are actually using these masks and gloves. And if just one percent of those lose their face masks, it’s already quite an environmental disaster.” 

Plus Alice Volpitta, Blue Water Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, updates us on the health of local streams.

Links: The Effects of COVID-19 Litter on Animal Life paper, research overview, report sightings of pandemic trash and wildlife at, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Blue Water Baltimore, BWB volunteering, Herring Run Nursery for native plants, report pollution for Blue Water Baltimore here.

Fully vaccinated, and no longer much worried about getting the virus, we have a set we keep in the cars for use in places that still demand masks.

I have to confess, I have seen a small number of masks in the litter on the street or beach, but at this point I would hardly call it "quite an environmental disaster".  I haven't seen any gloves on, outside occasional retail establishments, nor do I see any widespread use of disposable gloves. Of course, it may be worse in Baltimore. Things usually are for quite understandable reasons.

The Wombat has Rule 5 Sunday: Quiet, Please ready and waiting.

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