The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warns that in response to Covid-19, hospitals, healthcare facilities, and individuals are producing more waste than usual, including masks, gloves, gowns, and other protective equipment that could be infected with the virus.
There is also a large increase in the amount of single use plastics being produced. When not managed soundly, UNEP cautions that infected medical waste could be subject to uncontrolled dumping.
It can lead to public health risks, and to open burning or uncontrolled incineration, leading to the release of toxins in the environment and to secondary transmission of diseases to humans. Other wastes can reach water sources and add to riverine and marine pollution.
The UNEP Covid-19 Waste Management Factsheets outline UNEP advice to mitigate the adverse impacts of the pandemic on global environment: from how to safely manage the increase of waste produced in response to the crisis, to how to control releases of harmful chemicals in the atmosphere, land and water.
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