Covid face masks ‘devastate’ bird populations around the world


dr. Alex Bond, one of the researchers involved in the Natural History Museum project in London, said human waste affecting bird fauna is a “global problem”.

“If you start looking for this stuff, you see it everywhere,” he told the TBEN.

“We had reports from Japan, Australia, Sri Lanka, the UK and North America.”

Since its launch, the site has had more than 400 reports of debris entanglement or nesting. In a study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, the researchers examined 114 reports of personal protective equipment and found that the majority (95) were birds that had become entangled or processed the pandemic waste in their nests.

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Most of the sightings were in the US (29), England (16), Canada (13) and Australia (11), but there were also photos from 23 different countries, including Germany, France, Finland, India and Italy.

“It’s almost all masks,” said Dr. Bond.

“And when you think about the different materials a surgical mask is made of — there’s the elastic we see getting tangled around the legs of birds or we can see birds getting injured trying to ingest the fabric or the hard piece of plastic that it’s about your nose.

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“So we use this collective term of ‘plastic’, but it’s a whole range of different polymers, and masks are a good example of that.”

Of the 114 reported sightings, 106 (93 percent) were face masks, according to the study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.


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