Climate Warriors Silent on COVID Mask Pollution
Masks have been permanent staple of American life for the past year. Recommendations change like spring weather, from none to one to two or more, all based on flimsy evidence from the “follow the science” crowd.
Last March, the World Health Organization recommended no masks for individuals “unless they are sick with COVID or caring for someone who is sick.”
The esteemed Dr. Anthony Fauci agreed saying, “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask… And, often, there are unintended consequences.” How right he was, in an unintended way.
Last month, Dr. Fauci made the case for two masks. After all, if one is good, two or more must be better. Try that with your prescription medications and see how that works out.
Gov. Newsom wants his California subjects to wear two masks, hoping to suffocate voters ahead of his recall election. He describes states that are now ditching their mask diktats “absolutely reckless”. He did not apply that descriptor to himself after posting, “a video of himself inside a restaurant in an area of the state where indoor dining is still banned in response to the coronavirus pandemic.” Where he was wearing only one mask while he flouted his own rules.
The unintended consequences Dr. Fauci referred to included face touching as people fiddle with their masks, contaminating their faces and fingers, defeating the purpose of a face covering. There is another consequence receiving no attention, mask pollution.
Masks act as air filters rather than barriers. A barrier would be one of those space suits with a self-contained breathing apparatus worn by researchers in the most secure biolabs like the one at Fort Detrick.
Masks filter the air, to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the type of mask and fit. As filters, masks capture virus in inhaled room air, or exhaled by the mask wearing person if they carry the virus. Masks are like the filters in your furnace, capturing dust blowing through your ventilation system, turning the filters black.
If such a filter was in the ventilation system of a bioweapons lab, capturing lethal viruses, would it be tossed in the trash along with coffee cups and candy wrappers? It certainly would not, instead considered hazardous biowaste, decontaminated, and disposed of safely.
Why are not masks treated similarly? If masks are filtering out the deadly coronavirus, why are they not treated as medical waste rather than normal trash tossed on the ground or in the nearest rubbish bin?
COVID can persist on inanimate surfaces for up to nine days, yet infected masks are being discarded anywhere and everywhere like cigarette butts. Why are not masks considered medical waste? What if a hospital discarded bloody waste or used hypodermic needles in the regular trash?
Beyond the biohazard risk, what are masks doing to the environment?
The U.K. alone will generate yearly, mask waste equivalent to over five Eiffel Towers. Add in the rest of the world and it’s an Eiffel Tower of masks every day.
Another U.K. analysis calculated that single use masks, made from multiple layers of plastic, worn by every person in the U.K. for a single day, “Would create 66,000 tonnes of contaminated plastic waste and create ten times more climate change impact than using reusable masks.”
Cloth masks are often washed after a day of use, but surgical masks are not, disposed of at the end of the day, dropped in trash can, in parking lots or wherever.
Masks take 450 years to biodegrade. How many will end up in oceans and landfills, contaminating water and food chains with micro-plastics? Will sea animals become entangled in elastic mask straps as they are with plastic six-pack rings?
Oceans Asia screen grab, via YouTube
Surprisingly environmental groups are saying little about this new form of pollution. The BBC at least acknowledged the problem as did Oceans Asia, but the Green New Deal gang on this side of the pond does not seem concerned.
Microplastics in masks which contain toxic chemicals released during the degradation process. Masks don’t grow on trees, requiring energy and raw materials for production. Plastics are petroleum based, not magically grown from wind or solar energy. Ironically those on the left pushing universal masking are trying to ban the source of these masks.
There is also the disposal problem. The United Nations warns, “It can be expected that around 75 per cent of the used masks, as well as other pandemic-related waste, will end up in landfills, or floating in the seas.”
Sea birds and other aquatic life can become tangled in the elastic mask straps. Animals may ingest the masks or microplastics, harming the animals or contaminating the food chain.
Plastic gloves, also in common use these days, are derived from fossil fuel-based plastics and take hundreds of years to degrade, shedding microplastics into the environment.
Where are the climate warriors? As states end their mask mandates, climatistas should be cheering, Instead President Biden refers to this environmentally friendly move as “neanderthal thinking.” Greta Thunberg, the scowling environmental scold, should be wagging her finger at Dr. Fauci and state governors who want to keep everyone perpetually masked, creating tons of environmental waste.
The same “follow the science” crowd is also quite certain that man made global warming will destroy the planet, now in nine short years according to climate scientist John Kerry. Yet they are ignorantly or willfully paying no attention to the real environmental impact of the mountains of trash created over dubious COVID rules and mandates, such as masking up the entire population indefinitely.
Was it ever about the environment? Or the virus? Or simply a power grab by the left?
Brian C. Joondeph, M.D., is a physician and writer. He is on sabbatical from social media.