Researchers at Dalhousie University who are examining the extent of the problem used social media platforms to see if they could use them as a tool to gather public science data biologically relevant population and keep an eye on rapidly emerging environmental challenges.
In an article, published in the journal Science of the Total EnvironmentThe team documented 114 animal incidents affected by PPE debris in 23 countries between April 2020 and December 2021.
A large share of those encounters – 83% – involved birds, while few mammals, invertebrates, fish and sea turtles were affected. About 42 percent were due to entanglement, while 40 percent showed animals using detritus in their nests.
Justine Ammendolia, Faculty of Graduate Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies at the university, said: “Widespread use and inadequate infrastructure, combined with improper waste management have resulted in a kind of Garbage is emerging.
“Given their widespread presence in the environment, such items pose a direct threat to wildlife because animals can interact with them in many ways,” added Ammendolia.
Immediately after the WHO announced the pandemic, reports of pandemic-related litter items began to appear in many countries including Canada, the US and Germany.
Data from citizen science mobile app Litterati shows that between March and October 2020, the UK had the highest proportion of disposable masks, gloves and wet wipes being thrown away of any country with data.
Although the lowest proportion of pandemic-related debris was observed in Australia, it can be inferred that the national closure resulting in a decrease in outdoor traffic affects the presence of debris. broken.
Similarly, a relationship between strict lockdowns and reduced street litter was observed in South Africa, where the amount of waste on the streets was tripled during the lockdown.