PPE – A Boon or Bane ?

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is a boon but could also be a bane at the same time.


Handled properly it is life-saving, handled improperly it could be life-threatening.

PPEs which include face masks, gloves, plastic gowns and other infection control apparel have provided much-needed protection for frontline workers in hospitals and elsewhere.

Masks are also a requirement for the rest of us when in public places.

Most of these masks are made of artificial fabrics. These fabrics are inter-woven with polypropylene thermoplastic.

It has been estimated that, on a daily basis,  a whopping total of 10 million masks are used and discarded, many indiscriminately, in Malaysia.

That, however, would not be a cause for worry if conventional recycling methods can break down these masks.

But unfortunately, this is not the case. Most of these gloves and masks end up in landfills or pollute the seas, causing yet another threat to wildlife.

PPEs which could be contaminated with pathogens and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis pose a real danger to humans.

Proper SOPs must be instituted for the safe disposal of PPEs, especially in public places.  Hospitals authorities have already been doing their bit by the proper disposal of medical wastes.

The authorities must step it their efforts at enforcing laws against littering.

Along with enforcement, it is also important to take measures to educate the public against the indiscriminate disposal of PPEs.

Education must begin in schools where teachers can inculcate good hygienic habits among the school children.

Fighting the Covid-19 pandemic is already a full-time effort.  We must not divert our attention and resources to fight PPE pollution as well.

We have no time to lose.

For every day’s delay, another 10 million masks will be disposed of, many of them indiscriminately.

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