KUCHING: Improper disposal of used face masks appears to have lessened lately compared to last year, observed Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) chairman Lo Khere Chiang.
He attributed the improvement to increasing level of public awareness that the indiscriminate disposal of used face masks might pose health hazards to people and also negatively impact the environment.
“The council does have concerns regarding this issue, as littering of used face masks would affect the environment.
“Placing more garbage bins at public places could be one of the council’s initiatives towards overcoming this issue,” he said when contacted by New Sarawak Tribune.
He said just like smokers who littered the streets with their cigarette buds, there were also people who had the bad habit of disposing their used face masks indiscriminately.
He pointed out that it was compulsory for all people to wear face masks whenever they were out in public.
Touching on the issues that arise from the improper disposal of face masks, Lo explained that used face masks might carry harmful pathogens. As such, he said improperly discarding them might accelerate the spread of Covid-19.
“Face masks take a longer time to degrade, especially those which are made of plastic materials as plastics take decades to be fully degraded,” he said.
“Furthermore, face masks that end up in nearby water bodies such as streams or rivers may contribute to garbage pollution and eventually cause effects towards aquatic life as they would mistakenly consume the face masks as food,” he said.
He said single-use face masks, which are made of plastic materials, would degrade into microplastics over time and increases the chances of being ingested by aquatic life.
“Individuals that consume seafood that contain microplastics would suffer from health issues such as obesity and delay of growth among children in the long run,” he said.
Lo stressed that proper disposal of used face masks was one of the crucial keys in preventing the spread of Covid-19 among the community.
“To the public, I would urge them to dispose their face masks in a civic-minded and clean way so that we can be ensured of a safe, clean, green and healthy environment with healthy people,” he said.