Covid face masks: Policy shift results in increased littering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The introduction of the mandatory use of fitted face masks in indoor spaces to limit the transmission of COVID-19 resulted in increased municipal waste of discarded single-use surgical face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) such as latex gloves. In parallel, the occurrence of intentionally or accidentally discarded masks has created a major environmental problem. This paper presents the data of a longitudinal study of the occurrence of discarded face masks in an urban environment of a community in regional Australia. It demonstrates that the shift from voluntary to mandatory use of fitted face masks resulted in an immediate increase of publicly discarded masks and other items of PPE. The overserved spatial and temporal patterns allow us to draw inferences on human behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9875
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume13
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021

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