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The two sides of Covid-19 environmental effects 2022-03-09 오전 2:17:00

The world is currently suffering due to the new coronavirus disease pandemic. However, air pollution, which has greatly threatened both the environment and our health, has decreased significantly. In large cities notoriously known for places in which this phenomenon has occurred, COVID-19 was prevalent. As a result of social distancing and capacity limits, society as a whole has been less productive. This eventually led to clearing the air, following a plummet of air pollutents such as nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide.

But nonetheless, the outbreak of the contagious disease has also given rise to some negative effects.

Since the range of outdoor activities has become vastly limited, going out to eat or checking out at the grocery store is now an exertion - considering the round-the-clock delivery services, it has become much easier to gain necessities by simply clicking a few buttons. Though this convenience was generally accepted, its potential dangers are still being neglected to this day.

Due to the disposal of plastic and packaging materials, the sheer amount of waste is currently increasing at a much faster rate. Medical waste including personal protective equipment (PPE) is also a new issue, disposable masks and gloves being discarded day in day out. This recyclable materials are currently being neglected since recycling shutdowns are taking place. Manufacturing companies have fallen as an effect of COVID-19, making it responsible for the failure of waste management systems. Countries having poor recycling industry infrastructures or programs have their recycling sectors operated in highly contagious environments, in which workers are lacking of or not using PPE at all.

The mismanagement of recyclables eventually creates a detrimental amount of waste products flowing into the world’s oceans. According to OceansAsia, Hong Kong's environmental protection organization, 1.56 billion masks that entered the ocean in 2020 reached 4680 to 6240 metric tons. Though this accounts for a small part of 8 to 12 million metric tons of marine plastics, it contributes to increased deaths of marine animals.

The threat does not only affect marine life but also wild animals. Various cases regarding COVID-19 protective equipment are emerging all over the world. Freshwater fish stuck in latex gloves were seen in Leiden, and a crow strangled by mask strings was spotted in Canada. A lot more of similar incidents warns us that by-products of COVID-19 is affecting the environment, regardless of whether it takes place in land and sea.

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