Masks become new butts – disposable masks thrown to the ground decompose in nature for about 500 years

In some cities of Finland, sewer pipes were clogged due to the accumulation of disposable masks.

The wearing of protective masks has spread throughout the country due to restrictive measures. Disposable surgical masks can now be found on every corner, in particular, thrown to the ground after use.

According to University of Helsinki professor of urban ecosystems, Heikki Sethal , ordinary disposable masks are mostly parts made of plastic, or rather polypropylene, which decomposes very slowly.

– This process takes about 500 years. If, say, Mikael Agricola , had thrown a polypropylene mask on the ground when he went to take the first Finnish primer to print, its remains would have survived to this day, explains Setyala.

However, even after 500 years, masks will not completely disappear from the environment. They will turn into micro- and nanoparticles of plastic, which will enter water bodies, from there into fish and through it into the human body.

It is worth picking up, but not with bare hands

If a mask that has become street trash was worn by a person infected with the coronavirus, it is not safe to take it with your bare hands.

Founder of the Trash a Day (Roska päivässä) movement Tuula-Maria Ahonen always carries a plastic bag for this occasion, with which he can pick up a mask. City street cleaning workers Stara use special tongs to collect garbage.

Masks have filled not only the city streets, but also the sewer system. Already several times the pipes have been clogged or burst due to the accumulation of disposable masks. This happened, in particular, in the cities of Kouvola, Joensuu, Lappeenranta and Helsinki.