A recent study warns that single-use ‘Personal Protective Equipment’ (PPE) is resulting in widespread contamination of the environment. Published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal by a group of researchers from Portugal and Canada, the study reveals that every month an astonishing 129 billion plastic face masks and 65 billion plastic gloves are being used worldwide in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The researchers say that recent reversals of bans on single-use plastics have been “highly supported by the plastic industry.”
Waste Free Oceans, a group working to reduce the global impact of marine litter, says plastic face masks can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear from the environment. Masks discarded in the street will likely make their way to the sea via sewers and rivers. Once there, over time, they will break down into microplastics that may subsequently be ingested by fish and other sea mammals. Ocean Conservancy, an advocacy group, estimates that more than 600 species of marine animals are now impacted by plastics and other debris entering the oceans. Such pollution poses a major threat to ocean life and the food chain.
But even when disposed of correctly, PPE is far from being environmentally friendly. Generally considered as medical waste it mostly ends up in landfill or is incinerated. Only a small proportion, estimated to be around 10 percent, is recycled. But as the economic costs of dealing with the pandemic continue to rise, some municipalities have been suspending their recycling services. A recent investigation found councils in England have been incinerating recycled materials or sending them to landfill. In the United States, many recycling programs are experiencing severe disruption. Seemingly, the coronavirus is increasingly spawning a second pandemic composed of plastic pollution.
Ultimately, the growing mountains of plastic PPE waste are a clear sign that pharmaceutical medicine is failing to control the coronavirus pandemic. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), now says “we must learn to live with this virus” and that its effects “will be felt for decades to come.” Coming six months after the WHO first declared the coronavirus to be a public health emergency of international concern, his words hardly inspire confidence in either the global body’s competence or its recommendations.
Meantime, instructing citizens to get used to the so-called ‘new normal’, political leaders are promoting the development of pharmaceutical vaccines as the only possible solution that would enable the lifting of restrictions on everyday life. The mandatory use of face masks is portrayed as a short-term price to be paid until a vaccine becomes available. However, the rapid speed at which such vaccines are being developed has understandably given rise to widespread concern that the necessary safety testing will not be fully carried out.
There is particular concern over the side-effects of gene-based vaccines, which are currently being developed in Russia, China, the US, Germany, the UK, and other countries. Gene-based vaccines incorporate into the DNA of human cells. As such, their side effects might not show immediately. Instead, they may be delayed by years or might not appear until future generations.
There is a more direct and safer way to control the coronavirus. A recent study published by scientists at the Dr. Rath Research Institute in California shows that a specific combination of natural micronutrients can block the interaction between the binding point on the virus and its ‘entry port’ on human body cells. Containing a synergistic mix of polyphenols and plant extracts, the combination has a simultaneous effect on key mechanisms of the infection: firstly, by decreasing the expression of coronavirus receptors in human body cells, and secondly, by blocking viral binding to the (remaining) receptors. The study authors write that with a blocking rate of nearly 100 percent, the micronutrient combination rivals the efficacy of any vaccine – but without the incalculable risks.
Through demonstrating the potential of micronutrients to help bring the pandemic under control, by extension the Dr. Rath Research Institute study also shows that science-based natural health therapies can reduce PPE waste and contamination of the environment. Unlike pharmaceutical approaches – the pollution from which is increasingly affecting food chains, water supplies, and the environment – micronutrients are not only good for people, they are also non-polluting for the planet. It is time to spread the message that natural healthcare is sustainable healthcare.