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Researchers warn littered disposable masks will negatively impact environment

Posted at 5:50 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 20:50:17-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The environmental community is concerned that individuals using masks are disposing of the face-covering properly.

Dimitri Deheyn is a Scripps Institution of Oceanography research scientist and studies biodegradable objects, something disposable masks are not. He said around the world, researchers are seeing an increase in trashed masks on beaches, which will ultimately end up in the ocean and harm wildlife and our ecosystem.

In addition, when the disposable masks are thrown away, the string can become a danger to animals if not cut, so he said if you have to use disposable masks, cut the string that goes around the ear.

Deheyn has been working with a company based in Austria called Lenzing that typically makes eco-friendly comfortable clothing from fibers that can degrade, making them better for the environment.

He said the company shifted to making biodegradable masks when the pandemic hit, and he’s helped test them.

“Basically test them, we put them in the seawater and see if they degrade and yes they degrade,” he said.

He said there are U.S. companies that make a similar product, and this is what people should be wearing instead of disposable masks. He said reusable masks are another solution to helping save the environment.

“If you are acting as an individualistic human being, and you oppress nature, at the end this could be very bad for us as a human society,” he said, encouraging everyone to do their part.