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Facemasks: A Looming Microplastic Crisis.
Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jul 01; 18(13)IJ

Abstract

Single-use disposable facemasks have been used as a preventive measure against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, many researchers have found evidence that these facemasks are being dumped into lakes, rivers, and open garbage dumps. Facemasks have the potential of releasing microplastic fibers into the environment; a phenomenon that has been poorly investigated. Moreover, microplastic fibers composed of plastics have the potential of affecting the flora and fauna of many ecosystems. In this preliminary study, we investigate how many microplastic fibers had been released to the water by KF-AD, KF94, surgical, and FFP1 standard facemasks, which are the most widely available facemask standards in South Korea. The waterbody in our research was mechanically agitated for 24, 48, and 72 h. Findings showed that most of the layers of facemasks are composed of polypropylene. The surgical and KF94 standard facemasks released the highest number of microplastic fibers. Furthermore, under our research conditions, a single facemask can release at least 47 microplastic fibers per day (e.g., KF-AD standard mask), which can lead to the release of at least 1381 million microplastic fibers per day in total in South Korea if 70% of the urban population uses a single mask every day. Moreover, the released microplastic fibers significantly increased when the agitation time extended from 24 to 48 h. This finding suggests that the number of released microplastic fibers is likely to increase drastically.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Seoul National University, 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 08826, Korea.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Seoul National University, 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 08826, Korea.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Seoul National University, 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 08826, Korea.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Seoul National University, 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 08826, Korea.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article

Language

eng

PubMed ID

34281005

Citation

Dissanayake, Janith, et al. "Facemasks: a Looming Microplastic Crisis." International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 18, no. 13, 2021.
Dissanayake J, Torres-Quiroz C, Mahato J, et al. Facemasks: A Looming Microplastic Crisis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021;18(13).
Dissanayake, J., Torres-Quiroz, C., Mahato, J., & Park, J. (2021). Facemasks: A Looming Microplastic Crisis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(13). https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18137068
Dissanayake J, et al. Facemasks: a Looming Microplastic Crisis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jul 1;18(13) PubMed PMID: 34281005.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Facemasks: A Looming Microplastic Crisis. AU - Dissanayake,Janith, AU - Torres-Quiroz,Cecilia, AU - Mahato,Jyoti, AU - Park,Junboum, Y1 - 2021/07/01/ PY - 2021/06/11/received PY - 2021/06/29/revised PY - 2021/06/30/accepted PY - 2021/7/20/entrez PY - 2021/7/21/pubmed PY - 2021/7/23/medline KW - COVID-19 KW - facemasks KW - microplastics KW - solid waste management KW - water pollution JF - International journal of environmental research and public health JO - Int J Environ Res Public Health VL - 18 IS - 13 N2 - Single-use disposable facemasks have been used as a preventive measure against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, many researchers have found evidence that these facemasks are being dumped into lakes, rivers, and open garbage dumps. Facemasks have the potential of releasing microplastic fibers into the environment; a phenomenon that has been poorly investigated. Moreover, microplastic fibers composed of plastics have the potential of affecting the flora and fauna of many ecosystems. In this preliminary study, we investigate how many microplastic fibers had been released to the water by KF-AD, KF94, surgical, and FFP1 standard facemasks, which are the most widely available facemask standards in South Korea. The waterbody in our research was mechanically agitated for 24, 48, and 72 h. Findings showed that most of the layers of facemasks are composed of polypropylene. The surgical and KF94 standard facemasks released the highest number of microplastic fibers. Furthermore, under our research conditions, a single facemask can release at least 47 microplastic fibers per day (e.g., KF-AD standard mask), which can lead to the release of at least 1381 million microplastic fibers per day in total in South Korea if 70% of the urban population uses a single mask every day. Moreover, the released microplastic fibers significantly increased when the agitation time extended from 24 to 48 h. This finding suggests that the number of released microplastic fibers is likely to increase drastically. SN - 1660-4601 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/34281005/Facemasks:_A_Looming_Microplastic_Crisis. L2 - https://www.mdpi.com/resolver?pii=ijerph18137068 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -