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Pandemic-related waste raises alarm for environmental health

A healthcare worker walks down the corridor in the COVID-19 intensive care unit [Dmytro Smolyenko/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images]
A healthcare worker walks down the corridor in the COVID-19 intensive care unit [Dmytro Smolyenko/ Ukrinform/Barcroft Media via Getty Images]

An excessive increase in medical waste such as masks, gloves, and hygiene products as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has put environmental health at risk, a Turkish academic told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.

While use of masks and gloves has surged due to COVID-19 pandemic, which has gripped world for almost two years, scientific research data have revealed importance of protecting environmental health [Yasin Demirci/Anadolu Agency]

While use of masks and gloves has surged due to COVID-19 pandemic, which has gripped world for almost two years, scientific research data have revealed importance of protecting environmental health [Yasin Demirci/Anadolu Agency]

Zeynep Ceylan is a professor of environmental engineering at Ataturk University. She pointed out that many things have changed during the pandemic, such as people's consumption habits. Moreover, medical waste has increased considerably.

"Now, very new concepts such as 'environmentally conscious consumer', 'green consumer' and 'eco consumer' have emerged," explained Ceylan. "Everyone needs to be extremely careful about the environment."

She suggested that buying energy-saving products should become a regular habit, with the purchase of packaged food reduced as much as possible in order to keep the environment sustainable.

Citing data on face mask and glove waste, she said that last year, three million masks were used every minute around the globe. This led to the number of waste masks and gloves reaching 194 billion per month.

"In 2020, 72,000 tons of medical waste was generated in the world," warned Prof. Ceylan. "If we can't manage medical waste, it means we are heading towards a disaster."

In Turkey alone, she added, around 50 million dirty masks are discarded daily. Last year, 198 tons per day of medical waste were generated.

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CoronavirusEurope & RussiaNewsTurkey
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