FACE MASKS AS ENVIRONMENTAL RISK: AN OBSERVATIONAL STUDY USING STREET - SURVEY IN HISAR DISTRICT OF HARYANA STATEDinesh Kumar, Sukesh Trikha, Ranju Anthony and Reena Pathania
The present pandemic has increased especially the single use plastic waste across globe and the developing countries might find it hard to dispose them safely. The use of single use plastic Personal Protective Equipments (PPE), especially the face mask, as a result of universal masking, has increased manifold. The researchers conducted a study, using âobservationâ as a tool to gauge the quantity of littered facemasks, at specific locations in District Hisar, Haryana, India. Two rural and two urban localities were chosen. Density of facemasks per unit area was measured to quantify the problem. Out of total 1063 littered discarded facemasks across 10 localities in district Hisar, 52 percent were surgical facemasks which contain a considerable amount of plastic. Overall, density of littered facemasks was found to be 0.81 masks per 100 square meters. Reusable cloth masks also contain variety of non biodegradable materials which pose serious risks to the environment. Littered facemasks are potential biomedical waste which may pose challenges to human environment if not disposed of properly. The ecosystem, humans, flora and fauna of the earth, all are being affected by the huge amount of single use plastic waste. The safe disposal of such waste is the need of the hour and should be tackled earnestly employing inter agency coordination.