Share article:
Share article:

Face masks take up to 450 years to decompose

Credit: Belga

Face masks take up to 450 years to decompose in the environment, the Marine Environment department of Belgium’s Federal Public Health Service warned on Monday.

Even after this period, the small plastic fragments are still not completely eliminated, the department said upon launching an awareness campaign called “the sea starts with you.”

With the Covid-19 crisis, more and more face masks are ending up in the streets or ending up in the sea, carried away by the wind and waterways. Organisations, scientists and citizens regularly find them on beaches, along with disposable gloves and bottles of hydroalcoholic gel.

This rubbish is in addition to the average of 8 million tonnes of plastic waste that pollute our ocean every year, according to the FPS Public Health.

Related News

 

“Face masks save lives. But if they end up as waste in the North Sea, they endanger marine life,” said North Sea Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne.

“Marine animals can confuse masks with jellyfish. By swallowing them, their stomachs are immediately filled but without any nutrient supply, which weakens them in the long run,” the authorities said.

“Animals can also become entangled in the masks. And eventually, the microparticles that make them up can also end up on our plates,” they explained

The campaign aims to encourage people to throw away their masks in a bin or opt for a reusable mask. A series of posters distributed at the coast explain the impact of the masks on the marine environment.

More information about the campaign can be found here.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Testing rules following high-risk contact eased for vaccinated people
The coronavirus testing policy following a high-risk contact has been eased, meaning a vaccinated person who was in contact with an infected person ...
New measures announced for Belgian schools
Stricter rules are being implemented across a variety of sectors in Belgium to curb the rising number of infections and limit the damage as a result ...
Majority of booster doses should be administered by March 2022
Invitations will be sent out in the following days for the general population in Belgium to receive a coronavirus booster vaccine, and most adults ...
Belgium adopts national plan to combat gender-based violence
Belgium has adopted a National Action plan for the Fight against Gender-Based Violence, which includes more than 200 measures and unites all levels ...
Antwerp cancels Christmas market and New Year’s Eve fireworks
The city of Antwerp has joined other cities including Leuven and Ghent by announcing it is cancelling this year's Christmas market, the end-of-year ...
Pharmaceutical companies looking into vaccines against new variant
Pharmaceutical companies have sprung into action to look into vaccine protection against the new coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa, ...
Belgium imposes entry ban on travellers from southern Africa
Belgium is introducing an entry ban for travellers from several countries in the south of Africa following concerns about a new variant (B.1.1.529) ...
What Ursula did next
BRUSSELS BEHIND THE SCENES • Weekly analysis and untold stories
Nightclub closures, limiting contacts: These rules come into force today
Just over one week after its last meeting, Belgium's Consultative Committee on Friday once again announced a set of new measures to curb the rising ...
Almost 3,500 Covid-19 patients in hospitals as new cases continue to skyrocket
The number of new coronavirus cases in Belgium is continuing to rise, and with it the number of Covid-19 patients who are hospitalised as a result of ...
ECDC issues threat assessment about new COVID-19 variant, WHO designates it as a variant of concern
Preliminary data on the risks of the new COVID variant of concern is high, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said late ...
EU decides to activate emergency brake against new COVID-variant but stops short of flight ban
The new COVID variant detected in South Africa has put the EU on alert and prompted the Council’s Integrated Political Crisis Response (IPCR) to ...