A used protective face mask is seen discarded on the ground in Vancouver, B.C. in May 2020. Protective face masks along with other personal protective equipment have become the new litter being found on the ground during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Dispose of your face masks safely, top doctor urges Canadians

Leaving masks lying around is bad for both environment and transmission

Canada’s chief public health officer voiced her approval of the growing number of Canadians wearing face masks but urged people to dispose of them properly in her Sunday (June 14) statement.

Dr. Theresa Tam cited a Leger poll released Tuesday (June 9) that showed 51 per cent of Canadians wear face masks to the grocery store, up eight per cent from two weeks prior.

However, Tam raised concerns raised over litter from face masks and disposable gloves.

“Single use masks should be replaced as soon as they get damp, soiled or crumpled and disposed of properly in a lined garbage bin,” she said.

“Do not leave discarded masks in shopping carts or on the ground where other people may come into contact with them.”

Leaving masks lying around both contributes to litter and the risk of infection for other people, Tam added.

Tam reminded Canadians that wearing a mask does not mean they should leave the house when sick but that she encouraged a “face covering as extra layer of protection” in addition to washing hands and physical distancing.

As of Sunday, Canada had 98,410 test positive cases, including 8,107 deaths and 59,354 people who have recovered from COVID-19. More than 2.1 million people have been tested for the virus since the pandemic began and Tam said an average of 33,000 were tested each day last week, with two per cent testing positive.

READ MORE: Gloves and masks become problem litter as COVID-19 prompts people to cover up


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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