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Mask Pollution – Where are the Environmentalists?

A Commentary By Brian C. Joondeph

Masks are now a seemingly permanent staple of American life with no end in sight. Mask 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 even three must be better. Try that with your prescription medications and see how that works out.

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. What about the environmental unintended consequences?

Masks act as filters, capturing some of the virus in inhaled room air, or potentially exhaled by a person carrying the virus. Think of the filters in your furnace and how black they become capturing dust blowing through your ventilation system.

What if the above filter was in the ventilation system of a bioweapons lab, capturing nasty virus particles? Would it just be tossed in the trash along with coffee cups and yesterday’s newspaper? Absolutely not, this would be considered hazardous biowaste and not simply dropped in the nearest rubbish bin.

What about masks? If masks are capturing the COVID virus, on either side of the mask as they allegedly do and the reason everyone is wearing them, are the masks being disposed of as medical waste or simply dropped in the trash or on the ground?

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?

It’s not only the biohazard issue, but the plastic masks as well.

The UK alone will generate, in one year, mask waste equivalent to over five Eiffel Towers. Add in the rest of the world and it could be an Eiffel Tower of masks every day.

Another UK analysis calculated that single use masks, made from multiple layers of plastic, if worn by every person in the UK 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, often dropped 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?

Surprisingly environmental groups are saying little about this new form of pollution. The BBC at least acknowledged the problem, but the Green New Deal gang on this side of the pond does not seem concerned.

First are the microplastics in masks which contain toxic chemicals released during the degradation process. Masks don’t grow on trees and require 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.

Second is 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.

The Biden administration plans on sending 25 million masks to community health centers and soup kitchens with no comment about the environmental impact as many of these masks will end up littering the streets and landfills.

Surgical gloves also originate from fossil fuel derived plastic, derided by climate warriors, taking hundreds of years to break down and shedding microplastics into the environment.

It’s rich that the “follow the science” crowd is so certain about the life saving benefits of masks, despite scant clinical trial data showing such benefit. The Danish mask study, a randomized controlled clinical trial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found the opposite, that surgical masks, “did not reduce the SARS-CoV-2 infection rate among wearers by more than 50%.”

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.

The silence of the environmentalists is deafening.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, is a physician and writer. He is on sabbatical from social media.

See Other Commentaries by Brian C. Joondeph.

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