Animals need protection from mask problem


THE young silver gull was photographed by volunteers with the Safety Beach/Dromana Beach Patrol. Alongside the discarded face masks were plastic straws, mini-soy containers, plastic film and cigarette butts.

FACE masks have now become a part of daily life. Wearing them outside the house is compulsory and may stay that way even when the stage four coronavirus restrictions are lifted or eased.

Disposing of the masks, which can take years to break down, has become a massive world wide problem.

Not only are discarded masks potential spreaders of the coronavirus (research shows that under certain conditions viruses can survive up to seven days on plastic masks), but they are also a danger to wildlife.

Masks can smother the environment and are ingested by animals which sometimes cannot distinguish between plastic and their prey.

If ingested, masks and other plastics swell and fill an animal’s stomach. Smaller animals can also become entangled in the masks.

While no official guidelines have yet been issued on the best way to dispose of masks, there are obvious benefits to using reusable masks.

Disposable masks should be placed in rubbish bins and not with recyclables.

First published in the Mornington News – 1 September 2020


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