THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the City of San Fernando appealed to the public to dispose face masks properly to curb risks of pollution and biodiversity loss in Central Luzon amid the prevailing threats of the Covid-19 pandemic.
DENR-Central Luzon Director Paquito Moreno Jr. said healthcare wastes, such as face masks and gloves, must be separated from other regular household wastes, since they are considered hospital wastes, which pose danger to health and the environment.
"The proper disposal of these potentially contaminated healthcare items starts at home. These wastes must be placed in a yellow bin or any separate container, properly labeled as 'household healthcare wastes,'" he said.
He added that the participation of households in the proper segregation of these wastes has played a significant part in containing the spread of the Covid-19, and that the public must refrain from indiscriminately throwing in public places, offices and open bins used face masks, as they pose potential health hazards to people who come in contact with them.
DENR records show that around 4,500 tons of hazardous wastes, usually composed of healthcare items like used face masks, personal protective equipment, face shields, and gloves, have been collected in the region since July 2020.
The DENR warned the public that if this figure would rise, plastic pollution and marine litter would affect the sustainability of aquatic and terrestrial animals, and would likewise smother the natural habitat of wildlife in the region.
Improper disposal of hazardous wastes is punishable under Republic Act 6969, also known as Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990.