Dangers involved in improper disposal of face covers

Chennai: Ever since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, face mask has become one of the most sought after commodity.

The personal protective equipment is being used by everyone who ventures out. Though it is an essential safety kit, people should also realise that it is important to dispose the masks in a proper manner.

There are dangers that the coronavirus would spread to garbage collectors and others if waste that might carry the infection is not handled properly.

Darwin Annadurai, an environmentalist, said used mask should be disinfected using ordinary bleach solution five per cent or sodium hypochlorite solution one per cent and then disposed off either by burning or deep burial.
“The latter should be done by authorised biomedical waste recyclers,” he added.

He said that anyone who comes in contact with used masks are at high risk of getting infected. “Masks used by infected people is a worrying threat. The infection can live for hours or even days in moisture and could be transferred if a person touches it,” he added.

He further said that masks should be removed by only handling at the elastic ties, then they should be discarded in proper dustbins. “Washing hands is mandatory before and after removing the mask. One should take off the mask, and fold it in half inwards, such that the droplets from the mouth and nose are not exposed. Then, fold the mask into another half, and then another half, until the mask looks like a roll. The mask can also be wrapped with its ear loops so that it will not unravel. The mask can also be wrapped in a piece of tissue before discarding it,” he added.

Improper disposal of masks can also affect the birds, animals and marine life. “Single-use masks are made of plastic and a thin strip of metal and are often not being disposed of properly. They pose grave threat to other animals,” he said.

He also requested the government to ensure that the used masks are disposed in a proper manner and people are made aware about it.

Balasubramani Muniyandi