Solon wants Covid-19 pollution addressed

Solon wants Covid-19 pollution addressed

MANILA – A party-list lawmaker on Monday said there is a need to take “stronger action” to address a new form of pollution induced by the extensive use of surgical face masks and other single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Representative Bernadette Herrera said the government should craft an action plan that would involve intensified monitoring and enforcement activities by concerned government agencies, such as the Department of Health, the Department of the Interior, and Local Government, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“It’s time that we take the so-called Covid-19 waste pollution seriously. Authorities need to develop and implement an action plan to address this problem before it’s too late,” Herrera said. “These agencies need to tighten up their monitoring efforts to ensure proper handling and disposal of Covid-19 waste, which poses serious risks to public health and the environment.”

Herrera said there is a growing concern over the unprecedented increase in single-use plastics including surgical face masks, face shields and gloves since the pandemic began.

“Beyond causing a deadly respiratory disease, the coronavirus has brought a new, and largely overlooked, threat to human health: more potentially harmful microplastics in the environment, this time from used PPE,” she said.

Citing a 2020 study by the World Wildlife Fund, she said the PPE used to fight Covid-19 becomes plastic waste after its use, invading the streets, sidewalks, parks, and other public places.

She further said Covid-19 waste often ends up in rivers and oceans, causing a huge threat to marine life.

Herrera warned that poor management of Covid-19 waste potentially exposes health care workers, waste handlers, patients and the community at large to infection, toxic effects and injuries, and risks polluting the environment.

She stressed the need to segregate all medical waste materials at the point of generation, appropriately treated and disposed of safely—all of these fall within the responsibility of local government units (LGUs).

“Proper waste management is more important than ever, and we hope the national government, LGUs, hospitals and the general public will work together to ensure the proper handling and disposal of Covid-19 waste,” Herrera said. (PNA)

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