Hundreds Of Pieces Of PPE Are Being Found On Britain's Beaches
Charity volunteers trying to keep Britain's beaches clean are discovering loads and loads of discarded PPE items such as masks and glove clogging up the coastline and presenting a problem for animals and the environment.
Whilst there has recently been a ban announced on plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds, there appears to be a new threat to the beaches of the nation caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
With more and more people choosing to wear single-use disposable masks and gloves to protect themselves, more and more items of that PPE are washing their way down to the seaside, or being discarded there by careless visitors.
Seriously folks, you need to be wearing a mask in most public places, but don't just chuck it on the beach, or anywhere for that matter.
23-year-old Emily Stevenson is a marine biologist who spends a lot of time cleaning up the beaches of Cornwall alongside her dad Rob and the volunteers from the Beach Guardian charity.
In the last two months, Emily and the team have picked up 650 plastic gloves and 250 face masks on the short stretch of coastline between Padstow and Newquay.
That's only going to get worse as the pandemic rumbles on, unless people start taking responsibility for their own waste.
Emily told Mail on Sunday: "PPE waste is everywhere.
"We're finding on average five to ten masks on every clean."
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It's not fantastic to wear the single-use masks anyway, really. They've mostly got a thin layer of non-recyclable plastic in them - such as polypropylene, vinyl, or polyethylene - that will have to go to a landfill site or be burned, releasing toxic fumes into the atmosphere.
The numbers are staggering.
Emily continued: "Left in the ocean, they will take an estimated 450 years to degrade. We're finding more on our beach cleans than we are anywhere else.
"This is really frightening because it's that final point of contact before it goes out into the ocean. If it's not picked up now, it probably never will be.
"When a mask is dropped on the ground or blown out of a car door, it can easily find its way to the sea."
"Washed down into a drain by rainfall, it will travel into a river and flow down to the estuary, where it will be swept out to sea or eventually be washed up on a beach."
Perhaps it's time to think about getting a few reusable masks, or simply not chucking your plastic one onto the ground?
If we want to be able to enjoy the beaches again once this is over, it's worth doing.
Featured Image Credit: Beach Guardian/Facebook
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