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UGLearnGreen: Mask disposal and the environment, impact on wildlife

October 6, 2021 

Masks are a crucial layer of protection in the controlling of COVID-19, however when disposed of improperly, masks can have a serious impact on the environment and wildlife. 

This spring, researchers published a report in the journal Animal Biology that examines the effect the improper disposal of single-use personal protective equipment (PPE), including disposable masks and gloves, has on animals. 

Researchers in many parts of the world have documented reports of animals dying after ingesting or becoming tangled in PPE. 

It’s important that we always dispose of single-use masks and gloves properly, both to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the environment and wildlife. 

Please see further below for information from Health Canada on the proper disposal of masks.

And to help protect animals and the environment, consider these tips:

Health Canada: Cleaning and disposing of masks

Cloth masks should be changed and cleaned if they become damp or soiled. You can wash your cloth mask by:

Non-medical masks that can’t be washed should be disposed of properly in a lined garbage bin. Replace your mask as soon as it gets damp, soiled or crumpled. Don’t leave discarded masks in shopping carts or on the ground where other people may come into contact with them.

It’s important to remember the following when using non-medical masks:

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