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Evaluating the Environmental Impacts of Personal Protective Equipment Use by the General Population during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Study of Lombardy (Northern Italy)

1
Department of Science and High Technology, University of Insubria, Via Valleggio 11, 22100 Como, Italy
2
Department of Human Science of the Innovation for the Territory, University of Insubria, Via Valleggio 11, 22100 Como, Italy
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Hynek Roubík
Received: 2 March 2021 / Revised: 11 April 2021 / Accepted: 13 April 2021 / Published: 15 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Implications of COVID-19 Pandemic)
The diffusion of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) impacted the whole world, changing the life habits of billions of people. These changes caused an abundant increase in personal protective equipment (PPE, e.g., masks and gloves) use by the general population, which can become a concerning issue of plastic pollution. This study aims to evaluate the negative effects of the abundant PPE use following the COVID-19 diffusion using the test site of the Lombardy region, an area highly affected by the pandemic. Population data were retrieved from national databases, and the COVID-19 national guidelines were considered to estimate the total use of PPEs during 2020. Then, the quantity of waste derived from their use was evaluated based on the weight of PPEs. As well, possible scenarios for 2021 were proposed based on 2020 estimations. The results suggested different negative effects of the diffusion of PPEs both on waste management and on the environment: The abundant increase in PPEs-derived waste caused an increase in terms of costs for management, and the potential direct spreading in the environment of these materials (especially masks) poses a serious threat for an increase in microplastics in water bodies. Following this evaluation, a careful choice regarding COVID-19 measures of containment should be performed especially by the general population, avoiding contagion diffusion and reducing the possible environmental impact derived from disposable PPE use. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; personal protective equipment; environmental risk; plastic; waste management COVID-19; personal protective equipment; environmental risk; plastic; waste management
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MDPI and ACS Style

Binda, G.; Bellasi, A.; Spanu, D.; Pozzi, A.; Cavallo, D.; Bettinetti, R. Evaluating the Environmental Impacts of Personal Protective Equipment Use by the General Population during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Study of Lombardy (Northern Italy). Environments 2021, 8, 33. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8040033

AMA Style

Binda G, Bellasi A, Spanu D, Pozzi A, Cavallo D, Bettinetti R. Evaluating the Environmental Impacts of Personal Protective Equipment Use by the General Population during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Study of Lombardy (Northern Italy). Environments. 2021; 8(4):33. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8040033

Chicago/Turabian Style

Binda, Gilberto, Arianna Bellasi, Davide Spanu, Andrea Pozzi, Domenico Cavallo, and Roberta Bettinetti. 2021. "Evaluating the Environmental Impacts of Personal Protective Equipment Use by the General Population during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Study of Lombardy (Northern Italy)" Environments 8, no. 4: 33. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/environments8040033

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