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PPE Waste Trashes Wildlife

Liselotte Rambonnet & Auke-Florian Hiemstra with bird nest (Alexander Schippers).jpg
Dutch researchers Liselotte Rambonnet and Auke-Florian Hiemstra with bird nest made with a disposable mask. Credit: Alexander Schippers

As the coronavirus pandemic begins to recede … millions of disposable masks and gloves that kept people safe are beginning to surface as trash ... and are proving unsafe for wildlife.

Two Dutch researchers -- biologists Liselotte Rambonnet and Auke-Florian Hiemstra -- tell us how wildlife and domestic animals are getting entangled in, and ingesting the refuse -- and it’s happening all over the globe.

“It’s really an enormous problem. And actually billions and billions of people are actually using these masks and gloves. And if just one percent of those lose their face masks, it’s already quite an environmental disaster.”

Plus Alice Volpitta, Blue Water Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, updates us on the health of local streams.

Links: The Effects of COVID-19 Litter on Animal Life paper, research overview, report sightings of pandemic trash and wildlife at CovidLitter.com, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Blue Water Baltimore, Pollution 101, BWB volunteering, Herring Run Nursery for native plants, report pollution for Blue Water Baltimore here.

Sheilah Kast is the host of On The Record, Monday-Friday, 9:30-10:00 am.
Melissa Gerr is a producer for On the Record. She started in public media at Twin Cities Public Television in St. Paul, Minn., where she is from, and then worked as a field producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting in Portland. She made the jump to audio-lover in Baltimore as a digital media editor at Mid-Atlantic Media and Laureate Education, Inc. and as a field producer for "Out of the Blocks." Her beat is typically the off-beat with an emphasis on science, culture and things that make you say, 'Wait, what?'