DUBAI: The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) around the world has been accompanied by an unprecedented increase in the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks and disposable gloves.
However, the proper disposal of used PPE is vitally important in helping slow infection rates. “Improperly discarded PPE poses grave environmental threats,” Habiba Al-Marashi, chairperson of the Emirates Environmental Group, told Arab News.
A staunch environmentalist, Al-Marashi, who hosted the 23rd edition of the Emirates Recycling Awards this week, said: “The materials found in most PPE are non-biodegradable and oftentimes contain fibers such as micro plastics which are extremely harmful to the environment.”
She added that people should also consider the health and wellbeing of waste and recycling staff by correctly discarding used gloves, face masks, face shields and other items used for personal protection.
Al-Marashi pointed out a number of simple steps to ensuring equipment was safely thrown away.
“Commonly used PPE such as gloves and masks should be disposed of in a trash bin as soon as you remove them to ensure that they do not end up elsewhere in the environment. After a shopping trip, remove your gloves immediately and discard them into the waste bins outside provided by the municipality.
“Also, do not mix PPE waste with recyclable waste. Practice separating your used gloves and masks from other common household wastes when disposing of them.”
She added: “Although some disinfectant wipes are labeled as flushable, do not flush them down the toilet. This can cause clogging and hazardous backups and overflows to occur in the sewage system.
“And always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling the items.”
Source: AN-Food and Health
Top tips on safe disposal of used PPE