LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE/WCBD) - Joining the plastic bottles and bags littering the world are disposable masks and gloves. You’ve probably noticed them in parking lots and sidewalks. That’s not the only place they are showing up.
According to WCBD, an NBC affiliate in Charleston, South Carolina, there are 1.5 billion single use masks in the ocean. That data comes from conservation group Ocean-Asia.
Environmental experts are trying to figure out what damage that could do to wildlife.
Andrew Wunderley of the Charleston Waterkeeper told WCBD, the most common misconception is that disposable face masks are made of cloth, when they actually are woven plastic. Wunderly says they can be detrimental if left behind.
“From there it makes it’s way you know into the fish that we eat, the shrimp, the oysters, and all those little species that live in our marsh and use our marsh as nursery and critical habitat,” Wunderly said. “The gloves are especially bad, they look a lot like a plastic bag does which looks a lot like a jelly fish does which means that they’re food for you know fish, for turtles, or anything else that’s out there.”
Wunderly says an easy alternative is to use reusable fabric masks-and to watch your waste. Put it in trash bin or recycle.