Discarded coronavirus face masks and gloves rising threat to ocean life

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[Reading level: B2 – Upper Intermediate]

The rise in disposable face masks and gloves being used to prevent the spread of coronavirus is adding to the glut of plastic pollution threatening the health of oceans and marine life, environmentalists warn.

 

On Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order, effective this weekend, that New Yorkers must now wear a mask when out in public.

 

The CDC advises wearing cloth masks in public due to the concern that Covid-19 can be spread by people who are infected but not showing symptoms (although President Trump says it’s not mandatory and he “doesn’t see it for himself”).

 

On social media, pictures of bright blue gloves and crumpled masks littering streets, shopping carts, parking lots, beaches and green spaces are being posted around the world. It’s left to sanitation workers and grocery store staff, those essential but underpaid frontline employees, to pick them up.

 

Those not picked up can be caught by a gust of wind or washed down drains, ending up in the ocean.

 

Not only is there a potential health risk of dropping used masks and gloves during the pandemic but many contain materials that do not recycle and are not biodegradable. Surgical masks are made using non-woven fabrics including plastics like polypropylene.

 

The Ocean Conservancy discovered that many fish species consume plastics debris, confusing it for real food and estimated that at least 600 different wildlife species are threatened by the pollution. The bright colours of latex gloves can be mistaken as food by seabirds, turtles and other marine mammals putting them at risk of severe injuries and death.

 

Last year a sperm whale, which died after becoming stranded on a beach on the Isle of Harris in Scotland, was found to have 220lb of debris in its stomach including bundles of rope, plastic gloves, bags and cups.

 

Used masks and gloves add to an already significant problem: At least 8m tons of plastic end up in the oceans every year, making up 80 per cent of all marine debris, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

 

There is also a human health risk from plastic entering the food chain with nearly a billion people around the world consuming seafood as their primary source of protein.

 

According to NOAA, plastic wreaks havoc on marine ecosystems. As plastic swirls around in the water, much of it breaks down to tiny pieces, called micro-plastics.

 

Plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces until micro-plastic is everywhere. It’s toxic and it’s in what we’re eating and drinking. There’s no way to clean up micro-plastics. Once trash makes it into the ocean and breaks into smaller pieces, it’s almost impossible to take it back.

 

Source: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/coronavirus-masks-gloves-oceans-pollution-waste-a9469471.html?fbclid=IwAR0z99O05ln98qjHT5gU8np2RtSPmO_k2acuJ6-3jOBajFlvbf-JVrGl7YI

WORD BANK:

disposable /dɪˈspəʊ.zə.bəl/ [C2] (adj): dùng một lần

glut /ɡlʌt/ (n): sự thừa mứa

executive order /ɪɡˈzek.jə.tɪv ˈɔː.dər (n): mệnh lệnh hành pháp

mandatory /ˈmæn.də.tər.i ˈɔː.də/ (adj): không bắt buộc

crumpled /ˈkrʌm.pəld/ (adj): nhàu nát

litter /ˈlɪt.ər/ (v): rải rác

sanitation /ˌsæn.ɪˈteɪ.ʃən/ (n): vệ sinh

underpaid /ˌʌn.dəˈpeɪd/ [C1] (adj): được trả lương thấp

frontline /ˈfrʌntlaɪn/ (n): tiền tuyến

a gust of wind /ɡʌst (phrase): cơn gió mạnh

drain /dreɪn/ [C2] (n): cống

pandemic /pænˈdem.ɪk/ (n): đại dịch

biodegradable /ˌbaɪ.əʊ.dɪˈɡreɪ.də.bəl/ (adj): phân hủy sinh học

non-woven /nɒn-ˈwəʊ.vən/ (adj): không dệt

fabric /ˈfæb.rɪk/ [C1] (n): vải

debris /ˈdeb.riː/ (n): mảnh vụn

latex /ˈleɪ.teks/ (n): mủ cao su

sperm whale /ˈspɜːm ˌweɪl/ (n): cá voi nhà táng

strand /strænd/ [C2] (v): mắc kẹt

bundle /ˈbʌn.dəl/ [C2] (n): bó

food chain /ˈfuːd ˌtʃeɪn/ (n): chuỗi thức ăn

wreak havoc /riːk ˈhæv.ək/ (phrase): tàn phá

swirl /swɜːl/ (v): xoáy

micro-plastic /ˈmaɪ.krəʊˌplæs.tɪks/ (n): vi nhựa


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