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A new hazard: countless masks polluting nature Updated: 2020-09-17 10:57:09 KST

129-billion.
That's how many masks the world has been throwing out every month during the pandemic.
This has caused an enormous amount of waste,raising concerns about a new type of plastic pollution.

"Disposable masks are made of plastic, so they hardly decompose remaining as microplastics. As they can't be recycled, they are either burned or buried in landfills which is a huge burden on nature."

Walking down the street,masks that weren't thrown away properly, or that got left out during the disposal process are easy to spot.
These have become a new hazard for wildlife.
Masks and latex gloves are being washed up along coasts around the world, threatening marine wildlife.
Animals get tangled in the ear straps of single-use masks or even ingest those materials.
One French environmental group reported that they helped over 900 animals caught in trash since the beginning of the lockdown.

Viruses or germs remaining on the cover of the masks is also an issue raised in the disposal process.

"The coronavirus can last 24 hours, and even up to seven days on a surgical mask. One piece of research showed detectable levels of infectious virus could still be present on the outer layer of the mask."

"Discarding masks properly is as important as wearing them in the first place. To lower the chance of secondary infections, take off the mask by the loops without touching the outside of the mask.
Fold the contaminated part inwards and fold it in half two more times.
To prevent the mask from being a danger to wild animals, cut the straps in half, and then wrap them around the mask so that it doesn't open up.
Throw it away but make sure the mask stays in the garbage can."

Efforts to properly dispose of used masks are being spread on social media.
Those participating say the simple act of indifference may have a terrible effect further along the line.
Choi Jeong-yoon, Arirang News.
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